Delightfully different, totally terrific

Dilly the penguin has one leg, so she hops rather than waddles. Some penguins are fine with this, others not so. Approaching the topic of “difference” often feels like a potential parental minefield, but I promise you can’t go wrong with Delightfully Different Dilly. There’s a learning here, obviously, but many stories which cover this scenario feel uncomfortably forced or contrived. Not so here. This is a classic adventure set-up, with courage, teamwork, and friendship shining through, and it’s flawlessly done.

Stunning illustrations (see the pic), tons of drama, great characterisation, and an important message that is not rammed down your throat – this is an absolute must for every home bookshelf and classroom book box.

Not only are there great talking points leaping from every page, but I was so impressed with the linked sensory activities done by @rascals_and_rainbows that I have to highlight them here. Check it out!

Blurb

When Dilly is born, her parents think she is perfect – from the top of her head to the bottom of her foot. The other babies notice that she is different but soon accept her, and love her different way of doing things. They even try  to copy her – in the funniest ways! Their mummies and daddies aren’t sure, though – someone different makes them anxious, they like everyone to be the same. Can their babies convince their parents to accept Dilly – and to understand that it’s actually brilliant to be different?

Author bio

I began writing magazine fiction and have sold thousands of stories all over the world, but when my daughters were born and I started reading to them, I was reminded just how wonderful children’s books are, and decided to try writing them myself. They are the most fun of all and I have had over eighty books published from picture books up to novels for up to age 12. 

Some of them deal with issues I have faced with my own children such as a pet dying – Scrumpy (Andersen) or an over-adventurous hamster – Hammy (Orchard), others cover issues common to many children, such as being scared of monsters – Nothing Can Frighten a Bear (Nosy Crow), being different – Delightfully Different Dilly (Quarto 2021) and being small – Billy and the Balloons (Salariya) and Off to Market! (Frances Lincoln -a runner-up in the Dundee Picture Book Award and based on my journey on an over-crowded minibus in Uganda filled with villagers, furniture and animals! 

Book box birthday party!

It’s flown past but the book subscription box business I run, The Book Dragon Club, is one. If you haven’t already seen the boxes then clearly my social media presence needs some attention, so here is a little teaser.

At the start of the pandemic I turned my after-school book clubs into a range of carefully curated book boxes and themed activity packs. The monthly boxes save parents’ time and effort in ensuring their child has access to a high quality, diverse library, and are specifically designed to encourage cross-curricular learning. Plus our regular book club meetings (online) are a great way to encourage a love of reading.

The book boxes are designed to inspire a lifelong love of reading with an emphasis on diversity by both genre and author. Each box includes an exclusive themed activity pack designed by experts to encourage cross-curricular, immersive, learning. Our boxes are suitable for all abilities, from reluctant readers to bookworms, although of course we call them book dragons. 

If you aren’t a member already, I’d love to see you there.

You can find out more about the book boxes at www.bookdragon.club

PS – prices will be going up in the summer for new members, so join now to lock in the current bargain!

Hopping corn science experiment

I just had to share this cool science experiment from the fabulous Suzie at StemSpark. Is it just me, or is this like making your own lava lamp? Love, love, love it!

Anyway, here are Suzie’s easy peasy instructions …

You’ll Need a clear glass container popping corn water baking soda white vinegar food coloring (optional)

Instructions 1) Fill your glass container with water and add a couple drops of food coloring.

2) Add your baking soda and stir well until it is all dissolved.

3) Add a small handful of popping corn kernels.

4) Add the vinegar and watch the corn start to hop up and down!

Hopping Candy science experiment

The corn will hop up and down repeatedly in your container for over an hour.  It’s so much fun to watch (mesmerizing would be the best word to describe it). The experiment creates a great opportunity to talk about gases, liquids, and solids with your child.

Basically, the science behind the activity is that when the baking soda and vinegar combine, they react to form carbon dioxide (CO2) gas.  The gas forms bubbles in the water, which enclose the corn kernels.  The bubbles lift the kernels up to the surface, and when the kernels get to the surface, the bubbles pop, and the kernels sink again.

Camogie, Gaelic football and a giveaway

Here’s a little known fact about me – I played rugby for years. I wasn’t particularly big, but I was fast so I mainly hung around on the left wing, occasionally outside centre. I’m a big fan of girl’s sport so couldn’t let this book go past.

Before we get to the book, I really want to share the sporty background of author, Emma Larkin, as you’d think it provides the inspiration for the book.

Emily coaches ladies’ football at underage level with her local ladies’ football club and did attempt to play ladies football for a few years with her local “Gaelic4Mothers&Others Team”! She claims she may not have been the greatest football player, but, like me, she could run! And it was an hour each week where she could exercise in a fun environment with a fantastic group of women, who she remains friends with to this day.

But apparently that wasn’t the inspiration!

It was her grandmother, Maureen Hennebry, née Cashman who was on the Cork camogie (this is women’s hurling, a bit like hockey) team which won the All-Ireland Camogie Championship three times in row between 1939 and 1941. She came from a family rich in GAA history, the Cashman’s of Blackrock in Cork, and is even mentioned in the following poem by the famous Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh:

Camogie Match

Patrick Kavanagh 1905 – 1967

Bright shone the sunlight on Peggy and Doreen

Wild swung the ash sticks.  Be careful astoreen;

Josie is getting into her stride now,

Kathleen is hurling with all her Cork pride now.

A shout from the side-line: Mark your man, Kathleen Cody.

Kathleen pucks it.  I tell you that puck was a dotie.

The game is exciting, it is indeed really,

Maureen Cashman is tackling the bold Ide O’Kiely …

Emma says

“In hindsight, I am in awe of the fact that my grandmother and her teammates played camogie at such a high level at a time in Ireland, where a woman’s role was predominantly to be a wife and homemaker. Which comes to my reason for writing this book, my grandmother was my inspiration to write it, but my reason for writing it was to encourage all young girls to play sports. It is crucial for our wellbeing and development and we need to make it as normal for girls to play sport as it is for boys. The growing popularity of women’s sports in Ireland and further afield is so encouraging and we need to continue to develop this. As the current 20*20 campaign says, “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it”. I hope that my book can in some way help to normalise girls playing football and that both boys and girls will enjoy reading about Izzy’s adventures!”

How cool is that?!

Right, on to the book.

Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure

izzys_magical_football_adventure_neutral_cover

Blurb

Izzy is a seven-year-old girl who lives in Ireland and loves all sport, especially Gaelic Football.

Izzy plays football with her brothers on a regular basis in their back garden and dreams of playing for her county in the All Ireland Ladies Football Final in Croke Park when she is older.

One day, Izzy puts on her great grandmother’s bracelet, which is made of old All Ireland medals that her great grandmother won a long time ago, and something unexpected and magical happens, which may make Izzy’s Croke Park dream a reality sooner than she expected…………….

My review

I did get a bit confused about the sport. Given the inspiration, I was expecting the book to be about camogie but it’s actually about Gaelic football, which is where the author is involved herself. Plus, it’s called football, but football in Ireland means Gaelic football, with “football” being called soccer.

For the avoidance of further confusion, Gaelic Football is an Irish sport. You can pick up the ball up in it and run with it in your hand, subject to certain rules. You can score goals or points (over the bar). It has similarities to Aussie Rules football which I love watching (never played it though). All 32 counties (ROI and NI combined) have both mens and ladies football teams, and many clubs within them as well.

Back to the book, I absolutely love that you can order it in team strip colours, as well as the “neutral” green.

I do have a slight issue in that it’s a bit tricky to categorise as it’s very short, only 27 pages and heavily (and fabulously, I must say) illustrated, which would make it a picture book, but the written pages are quite text heavy, so it’s more like a short chapter book, but there are no chapters. You see the dilemma? To me, it actually looks and feels like a school reading scheme book, and I’d say it’s a great supported/ joint read for anyone working through the “Biff and Chip” series.

Setting the classification aside, it’s a great story with a strong message and if you know a sporty young girl who’s just moving towards independent reading, I’m sure she’d love it. It beats the terribly dull Biff and Chip hands down, slam dunk! Sorry, that’s basketball.

I personally wish it had featured camogie (the inspiration for the book), but whether it’s camogie or Gaelic football, it will spark a fascinating discussion on different sports as well as gender, meeting the author’s goal to encourage girls into sport.

I think all classrooms would benefit from having it in their book box.

Giveaway

I have one paperback copy (in the neutral green strip) to give away – you can enter here

Win a copy of Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure

Good luck!

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Izzys-Magical-Football-Adventure-Larkin-ebook/dp/B07XGS6D3G/

https://www.amazon.com/Izzys-Magical-Football-Adventure-Larkin-ebook/dp/B07XGS6D3G/

Author bio-

new author pic

My name is Emma Larkin, and I am the founder of “Emma Larkin Books” and “Rebel in Kerry Press”.  I have recently written and published my first book “Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure”, and I hope to write many more books about Izzy and her adventures in sport. As may be evident from the name of my publishing imprint, I am a “Rebel in Kerry”!  This means that I am originally from County Cork in Ireland, which is known as the Rebel County, but I moved to Kerry (another county in Ireland which neighbours Cork) in 2006 and have been happily living in Kerry since then, with my husband and four children. My husband is a Kerry native and we live in North Kerry, near Listowel, where my husband is from, and is an area which is rich is literary history!

I have always enjoyed reading and writing. Writing essays was my favourite part of primary school!

In my spare time, I love to run. I am very involved in my local parkrun in Listowel.  

For more info on any of the sports you might find these useful.

20*20 campaign – www.20×20.ie

Sport Ireland – www.sportireland.ie

Ladies Gaelic Football Association – www.ladiesgaelic.ie

Camogie Association – www.camogie.ie

Women in sport – www.womeninsport.org

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/emmalarkinbooks/

https://twitter.com/emmalarkinbooks

https://www.instagram.com/emmalarkinbooks/

Calling all budding entrepreneurs

You’re never too young to set up your first business, whether it’s the lemonade stand on the street or some fancy gaming app. My son has several business ventures up and running including break-time haircutting services for his friends at a bargain £3 (compared to £10 at the local barber shop). Sadly, the business plan collapsed as school were rather less than impressed by the resultant mullets and mohicans, but I was secretly quite chuffed with the initiative.

I’ve got a Creative Writing Workbook coming out in October, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in the non-fiction world recently and was excited to be offered a chance to review the Creative Genius Journal.

Creative Genius Journal cover

 

The blurb says

With 9 challenges that build the skills to help inform and develop a child’s resilience, imagination, improve their creativity, encourage drafting, sketching, reviewing and self-correcting of information and ideas. These are important, as alongside problem solving and working with others, they are the skills they will need for their futures.

But to my mind, it offers even more; it encourages those first steps towards launching a business. The activities include things like design a piece of apparatus for an adventure playground (the next Dyson?), or create a character to advertise a new drink (very Sir Alan Sugar/ The Apprentice). Each challenge draws in lots of aspects but they’re broken down into fun, manageable chunks.

GIVEAWAY TIME!

I want to have a go myself, but I’ve resisted and have a pristine copy to give away to one lucky reader (UK only, sorry).

You can enter here …

https://kingsumo.com/g/kd8d0c/creative-genius-journal

About the author

Susan O'Coonnor

Susan has taught for over thirty years in schools and colleges and has produced maths games and written several books for children and teenagers – ‘Mighty Memory Tricks’, ‘High Five Jive’, ‘Be Positive’ and ‘Creative Genius Journal’. These practical books are fun but have genuine educational benefit. Currently, she is writing for Bloomsbury Publishing.