Blog Tour: Leonie Roberts (3 in 1: Review: My Colourful Chameleon (Illustrated by Mike Byrne), Author Q&A and Giveaway!)

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A fabulous, fascinating and fun-filled story that is surely set to become a future favourite with children, their parents and their teachers!

Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming Leonie Roberts on her blog tour to The Reader Teacher. Leonie is a primary school teacher and also the author of the recently-released picture book My Colourful Chameleon (illustrated by Mike Byrne), which I must say is a real little gem. Leonie has kindly taken the time to answer a few of my questions too.

Enjoy!


Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Title: My Colourful Chameleon
Author: Leonie Roberts (@leonierobertsuk)
Illustrator: Mike Byrne (@TheMikeByrne)
Publisher: QED Publishing (@QEDPublishing)
Page count: 24
Date of publication: 25th January 2018
Series status: N/A
ISBN: 978-1784939380

Perfect for Nursery, Reception, Year 1 & Year 2.

#3Words3Emojis:
1. Eye-catching 👀
2. Funny 😁
3. Engaging 😍


The first line(s):
I have a pet chameleon
I love her – she’s the best!
But Mummy doesn’t like her,
she says that she’s a pest!

Review: My Colourful Chameleon opens with a girl constantly losing her camouflaging, colour-changing chameleon. Almost as if it is playing house hide-and-seek, it blends itself into the rooms of the house; the garden; the car and even at school causing all kinds of chaos and commotion for the girl and her family.

Will she be able to explain the reasons for its disappearance to her parents, teachers and others who doubt its awesome ability and be allowed to keep her dearly-loved, particoloured pet?

There is so much educational potential and opportunity within the pages of this book and this is encouraged by the helpful ‘Next Steps’ section at the back of the book. Discussion, questioning, discovery and observation can be promoted further through the introduction of new and interesting vocabulary (e.g. ‘chameleon’, ‘pest’) whilst helping to develop a scientific sense of awe and wonder in young children.

  • Can your children spot the chameleon hiding in the kitchen?
  • Can they see it in the bathroom?
  • Or what about the bedroom?

Delightfully drawn by Mike Byrne, his illustrations completely complement and embody the personalities of the characters within Leonie’s lovely style of rhyming narrative which will certainly be demanded to be heard again and again!

Equally, I’m sure that parents and teachers alike will thoroughly enjoy reading this to their children and their classes as much as they will enjoy listening to it. Due to it just begging to be read aloud, it will help to create a wholly interactive, immersive and enjoyable story time experience to be shared by all.

A fabulous, fascinating and fun-filled story that is surely set to become a future favourite with children, their parents and their teachers!

My Colourful Chameleon is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.

 


Author Q&A: Leonie Roberts (LR) with The Reader Teacher (TRT)

TRT: For my review, I’ve described My Colourful Chameleon in #3Words3Emojis, which 3 adjectives and 3 corresponding emojis would you choose to best describe it?
LR: You stole the best three words!!!
1. Cute 🐶
2. Adorable 🐼
3. Colourtastic 🎨

TRT: What books, people, ideas and inspirations have helped you to write My Colourful Chameleon? As a primary school teacher, did you test out the book or the book’s ideas with young readers at school?
LR: I’ve studied rhyming picture books by many many authors including Julia Donaldson. With this particular book, I didn’t personally test it out with any young readers at school because I was living and working in Italy at the time. However, my good friend who is also a teacher did read an earlier version of this text to her class.

TRT: What do you hope readers will get from reading your book?
LR: In simple terms, I just hope that readers enjoy this book and will want to read it more than once. It would be great if it also inspires them to read more in general.

TRT: Do you know a lot about chameleons to choose them as one of the central characters in your story?
LR: I know more about chameleons now than I did when I wrote the story. In fact, funny tale… it was originally called “My Colourful Iguana” until my Mum pointed out that iguanas are not the colour changing animals!!

TRT: If you could have had any exotic animal as a pet growing up, would it have been a chameleon? Or something else and why?
LR: I always quite fancied owning an exotic parrot so that it could sit on my shoulder and come everywhere with me.

PsammeadTRT: What is your favourite creature that exists only in literature?
LR: Oooo, this is a good question. I would have to say the Psammead from “Five Children and It” that was televised when I was young. Written by E. Nesbit.  

TRT: I can really imagine My Colourful Chameleon being especially fun to read aloud. What would you say are other advantages to writing a picture book in rhyme?
LR: As a teacher myself, I would say that having a picture book written in rhyme often allows the children to anticipate what will happen in the next sentence and to be able to join in more with the storytelling because they can often guess what the rhyming word will be.

TRT: Do you have a favourite two-page spread in My Colourful Chameleon that Mike has illustrated? Did you have any input in to the overall illustrations or the design of the cover?
LR: I didn’t have any input into the illustrations at all but I am very happy with the wonderful pictures that Mike Byrne has created. My favourite spread is possibly the opening spread because I love the image of the little girl being licked by her chameleon – it is so sweet!

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TRT: I know you are heavily invested and focused on promoting My Colourful Chameleon but can you tell us about any stories you’re working on or what you want to work on next? Do you plan to focus on writing more picture books or do you have something entirely different lined up outside of the publishing world?
LR: At the moment, I am working on a number of other picture book texts about all sorts of weird and wonderful things and over the last year I have also begun writing for older children.

TRT: What first attracted you to writing picture books?
LR: Perhaps from having read so many during my time as a teacher and from spending a few years working with young children I simply had lots of story ideas that I felt an urge to get written down. It all started from there really.

TRT: As a primary school teacher yourself, which books (including picture books) do you most like to read to your classes?
LR: I have three favourites that I love to read time and time again…
Jill Murphy’s Peace At Last; Julia Donaldson’s The Smartest Giant in Town (because I like the singing bits); and Lydia Monk’s No More Eee Orrh!

TRT: There are teaching ideas listed at the back of My Colourful Chameleon for teachers, schools and parents to use. Could you suggest any further ways that your book could be used in the classroom for the many teachers that will read this?
LR: I have lots of ideas about this and hopefully I will have time to put some more up on my site at some point. For starters, I would use this book in the classroom as an introduction to rhyme and colours. It would also be good as a starter text that could lead onto a non-fiction topic where children could find out about the features of both non-fiction texts and about real chameleons.

TRT: If you were to ‘pitch’ your book to teachers for them to use it in their classrooms or for parents to choose to read it at home, how would you sum it up?
LR: A funny tale that is useful for the introduction of colour language and in heping children to name the different rooms of the house.

TRT: For those teachers reading this Q&A and would like to enquire about arranging the opportunity of a school visit from yourself, how would it be best to contact you regarding this?
LR: The easiest way to contact me would be via the contact form on my webpage https://leonieroberts.com/ – I would love to hear from you!

TRT: When you were a child, can you remember any authors ever visiting your school and if so, did this inspire you?
LR: I can’t remember any authors having visited my school but I can remember one particular teacher who used to read amazing stories to the whole school during assembly times.

TRT: Finally, can you share with our readers something about yourself that they might be surprised to learn?
LR: I learnt how to Salsa dance whilst living abroad.


🎉 Giveaway! 🎉

I am pleased to say that I have been sent an extra copy of My Colourful Chameleon and therefore I will be giving it away!

Retweet this tweet and follow @MrEPrimary and @leonierobertsuk to win!


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Huge thanks to Leonie for choosing to visit The Reader Teacher on her blog tour and for sending me a copy (or two!) of My Colourful Chameleon!

My Colourful Chameleon is available to order now online or from any good bookshop.

Mr E
📚

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Elys Dolan named as the illustrator for International Book Giving Day 2018!

book giving day

The International Book Giving Day team is delighted to announce that Elys Dolan is the illustrator behind 2018’s official poster.

Elys Dolan’s poster features an array of fun, book loving characters.  51zQYMuTURL._SX347_BO1,204,203,200_
Eagle eyed readers will spot some familiar, much loved characters from her illustrated novel, Knighthood for Beginners, (Oxford University Press, 2017). With its fun design and brilliant attention to detail, Dolan’s poster is sure to catch lots of attention.

The poster is available to download, from the Book Giving Day website.

Libraries, schools & bookshops are encouraged to download, print and display Elys Dolan’s poster (and soon to be released bookmark and bookplate), to celebrate the love of reading & encourage others to give books to children on International Book Giving Day, 14th February 2018.

“We can’t wait to see Elys Dolan’s poster in the wild, spreading the word about International Book Giving Day. She has done an amazing job, and we’re incredibly grateful for her involvement.”

Emma Perry, #BookGivingDay


Elys Dolan  AuthorPhoto

Elys is an author and illustrator based in Cambridge where she studied children’s book illustration. She works predominantly with ink, newfangled digital witchcraft and coloured pencils of which she is the proud owner of 178 but can never seem to find a sharpener. When not doing pictures and making things up Elys enjoys growing cacti, working on her PhD about funny picture books and eating excessive amounts of fondant fancies.

www.elysdolan.com

Twitter: @ElysDolan
Facebook: ElysDolanIllustration
Instagram: ElysDolan


International Book Giving Day

International Book Giving Day is a 100% volunteer initiative aimed at increasing children’s access to, and enthusiasm for, books.

Now in it’s 6th year International Book Giving Day continues to grow from strength to strength reaching places such as Nepal, India, Canada, South Africa, UK, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Nigeria, Fiji, Czech Republic, USA, Cambodia, Hungary, Philippines and Romania.

On the 14th February, #bookgivingday, participants are encouraged to give books to children,

This can takes many forms, the only limit is the imagination. Books have been sent to child refugees in Calais, France; a new library was created in Cape Town, South Africa; in Uganda the Mpambara-Cox Foundation gifted books to children, for many it was the first time they have been given a book of their own. In 2014 Scholastic Australia went to the Melbourne Children’s Hospital and gifted a book to every child. People continue to be creative in so many different ways, all keen to share the love of books.

International Book Giving Day’s focus is on encouraging people worldwide to give a book to a child on February 14th, #bookgivingday.

We invite individuals to…

1) gift a book to a friend or family member,
2) leave a book in a waiting room for children to read
3) donate a gently used book to a local library, hospital or shelter or to an organisation that distributes used books to children in need internationally.

In addition, we encourage people to support the work of non-profit organisations (i.e. charities) that work year round to give books to children.

Review: Giant – Kate Scott (Illustrated by Alexandra Gunn)

‘A totally transformative tale to read, and read aloud, to help readers truly think and feel what it’s like to be others.’

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Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Title: Giant
Author: Kate Scott (@KateScottWriter)
Illustrator: Alexandra Gunn (@LexiGunn)
Publisher: Piccadilly Press (@PiccadillyPress)
Page count: 192
Date of publication: 9th February 2017
Series status: N/A
ISBN: 978-1848125643

Perfect for Year 4 & 5 (& comic book fans).

#3Words3Emojis:
1. Charismatic ☺️
2. Empowering 💪
3. Feel-good 😃


I’m Anzo.

In case you don’t know, in ancient German Anzo means ‘giant’.<br<br<br
iant.

Things need to change. And that means growing taller. Because if I can grow as tall as the rest of my family, I might feel more like one of them.

EXTRAORDINARY. NOT ORDINARY. 


The first line:
Mum and Dad probably didn’t mean to land me in trouble as soon as I was born.


If you search for Giant to purchase or read reviews about it, you’ll find it’s often accompanied by the phrase ‘A feel-good story children’s book about growing up and being yourself.’

But to me, it’s even more than that.

We meet Anzo at the beginning: an overlooked despondent, reticent Year 6 boy harboured by his own experiences of home and school life, in which he’s often ignored or teased or both. Throughout the story, however, we discover Anzo’s inner voice and uncover his true passions, what makes him tick and what makes him him. By the end, fittingly, he’s grown both literally and figuratively in every sense of the word.

And that’s just Anzo.

Wait until you meet his usually erratic and rambunctious family – Mum, Dad, Uncle Talbert and Uncle Miles – who are more invested in restoring their house for their new restaurant (which explains a lot as to why Anzo initially feels the way he does) than recognising Anzo and his achievements. Fortunately for them, they realise what they’ve been missing out on just in time.

As for his best friend Elise (an old-head-on-young-shoulders), she is the friend we all wish to have and what we all need. A future therapist, she’s read every book, manual and how-to-guide cover-to-cover on modern psychology and subsequently instils Anzo in to the now very much current way of The Power of Positive Thinking. This, however, can only help him so far…

Readers, particularly of older primary school ages, may identify and relate to some of Anzo’s experiences of being teased at school and generally just not quite ‘fitting in’.  But they will definitely connect to Anzo (like I did!) and learn that life is not necessarily about fitting in but finding your own way and in fact, sometimes, standing out. Standing out for the right reasons in acknowledging and nurturing what you already have, not what you want or in this case, what you think or wish you want.

Giant packs in big, strong, heartfelt messages in sincere, thought-provoking paragraphs as a result of Kate’s eloquent, touching and poignant style of writing which will be welcomed in classrooms, schools and homes across the country.

Kate’s writing is also complemented and visually characterised by comic-book style illustrations from Alexandra Gunn, that will greatly appeal to readers in which we peer into’s Anzo imagination where he takes inspiration from his real-life everyday battles with bullies, using these experiences as a form of escapism in to the cartoon world through the character of Giant.

If I were to sum Giant up, it’s such a refreshingly charismatic read that promotes empathy, confidence-building and overcoming insecurities so well. It will have you really feeling deeply for Anzo (some of the time); laughing out loud (most of the time); and will really prove that good things do come in small – and tall – packages (all of the time!).

A totally transformative tale to read, and read aloud, to help readers truly think and feel what it’s like to be others.

If you want to help to not only teach but to also nurture the morals, values and emotions of the children in your class, then I highly recommend that you read this book to them.

Thank you to the lovely Kate Scott for sending me a copy of Giant to review.

Giant is available to order online or from any good bookshop.

Look out for ‘Just Jack‘, her next offering, being published on 5th April 2018.


Mr E📚

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Did you enjoy reading Giant as much as me?
Can you describe it using #3Words3Emojis?
Will you be pre-ordering ‘Just Jack’?

Message me. Tweet me. Email me. Reply to me in the comments below…

Review: The House with Chicken Legs – Sophie Anderson (Illustrated by Melissa Castrillón)

‘Like a snowflake floating on the breeze…a glistening gem of a story with an air of elegance, beauty and fragility.’

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Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Title: The House with Chicken Legs
Author: Sophie Anderson (@sophieinspace)
Illustrator (Cover): Melissa Castrillón (@mv_castrillon)
Publisher: Usborne (@Usborne)
Page count: 352
Date of publication: 3rd May 2018
Series status: N/A
ISBN: 978-1474940665

Perfect for Year 5, 6 & 7.

#3Words3Emojis:
1. Beautiful 😍
2. Magical ✨
3. Heartfelt 💖


“Marinka dreams of a normal life, where her house stays in one place long enough for her to make friends. But her house has chicken legs and moves on without warning. 

For Marinka’s grandmother is Baba Yaga, who guides spirits between this world and the next. Marinka longs to change her destiny and sets out to break free from her grandmother’s footsteps, but her house has other ideas…”

To read the first chapter of the book, Prologue – click here


The first line:

My house has chicken legs. Two or three times a year, without warning, it stands up in the middle of the night and walks away from where we’ve been living.


A little while back, I was scrolling through my feed on Twitter looking for books coming out in 2018 and the one that I kept returning to was this one, The House with Chicken Legs. Was it the sight of the cover, the talk of the plot or the glowing reviews from Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Peter Bunzl and Claire Fayers that kept making me come back? OK, I’ll admit it. It was all of these things but most of all, it was the title.

1. How could you choose to not read a book called ‘The House with Chicken Legs’?
2. How could you not be both fascinated and the slightest bit intrigued by what was to come?

Therefore, I just knew that I HAD to read it. Big thanks to Sophie Anderson and the lovely people at Usborne (@AnnaHoworth), for sending me a copy to read and so started this website!

The House with Chicken Legs is steeped in Russian folklore in the form of a Baba Yaga mythical retelling. You may think ‘Oh, just another retelling…’ but let me assure you, that this reimagining take on this tale is absolutely something else.

How would you feel if your house got to choose where you live?
How would you feel if your house decided who you met and became friends with?
How would you feel if you had great responsibility bestowed upon you but you wanted – no, needed – to choose your own destiny?

Along the way, Marinka, the House and her trusted jackdaw, Jack meet: life – Benjamin, Benji, Salma, Lamya; death – Nina, Serina, The Old Man and his Wife; and Yaga – Baba Yaga, Old Yaga and plenty of other Yagas; to try to work out the answers to these life-changing questions.

And we haven’t even yet spoken of the House. Well what can I say? The House is larger than life with an even bigger heart; personified perfectly with oodles of charm and charisma but also tinged with a loveable rawness and roughness around the edges that’ll have you yearning and pining deeply for it. Marinka is the right kind of heroine for this story but the House is just as much as a hero for me.

The more you read on, the more Marinka will have you wanting to join her on her journey of self-discovery, fate, companionship, loyalty and affinity where houses walk (and run!); where the dead talk; and where life, death and Yaga come together in a superbly crafted story.

Sophie’s use of language is packed full of rich and vivid imagery which ensures that the words leap and dance off the page effortlessly in to the reader’s mind creating stunning worlds of magic and adventure. This is further complemented by her utterly beautiful style of writing and divine choice of vocabulary (e.g. ‘nebulous‘, ‘tendrils‘ and ‘balustrade‘ to name but a few!), which is perfect for logophiles like many teachers and I who want to introduce a broader range of vocabulary to children.

By the end, like I was, you’ll be trying your best to hold on and not say goodbye to these characters and this stunning story. But you’ll also learn some Russian; some chemistry (I loved the mentions of compounds combining to make fireworks and scientists like Rosalind Franklin); wonder why you haven’t experienced a Yaga party before and you’ll certainly want your own House with Chicken Legs after this… I know that I do.

It’s like a snowflake floating on the breeze… a glistening gem of a story with an air of elegance, beauty and fragility.

One that needs to be in your hands as a teacher and in the hands of your class. Unmissable. I adored and devoured every single word.

A purely magical debut and an absolute must-read for 2018.

Out 3rd May 2018!

The House with Chicken Legs is available to pre-order now online or from any good bookshop.


If you can’t wait to hear from Sophie for that long, she’ll be joining The Reader Teacher for a Q&A very soon!

If you have a question you would like to ask Sophie, please click here!


Mr E
📚

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Have you been lucky enough to read the book already?
Can you describe it using #3Words3Emojis?
Will you pre-order the book to read?

Message me. Tweet me. Email me. Reply to me in the comments below…

Welcome to The Reader Teacher!

Here I will be reviewing and recommending a range of books written for primary-aged children and young adults.

This is my website/blog to help you as teachers, school staff and parents to get to know the books that will help children discover a love of reading for themselves and hopefully spread wider the same effects on children that I have had in my classroom.

You will find:

  • Mr E’s Recommended Reads – a list of recommended reads for a particular month showcasing the books that I would recommend to my classes.
  • Reviews – a broad range of reviews categorised by author (A-Z0, genre and age range.
  • Q&A  – where authors, illustrators and poets will join The Reader Teacher to answer questions (some of them asked by you!).
  • Coming Soon…  – take a look here to get ahead of the game and see what’s upcoming in the world of children’s publishing for you to order to read in the classroom.
  • #ourauthorofthemonth/Resources – here you will find a continually developing drive of resources made by myself and other teachers for Author of the Month displays – take a look at the hashtag #ourauthorofthemonth on Twitter for inspiration and ideas.
  • #BookoftheMonth vote – vote for the book that you are/would most like to read to your class for each month and find out the winner in the following month!
  • Giveaways  – keep an eye on and click this link to be in with a chance to win a (sometimes SIGNED!) copy of a book reviewed or recommended on here!
  • Parents – there will be blog posts specifically recommended for parents to view to help with choosing books for your children to read at home to complement the reading they do at school.
  • Libraries – a directory of libraries for your to search your local library’s catalogue to check books that have been reviewed and recommended here for you are in stock for you to use in the classroom (England/Scotland/NI libraries coming soon).
  • Publishers – a directory of publishers for you to find linked activities and teacher resources for books or to contact publishers direct using their Twitter handles.
  • Review Policy – please check here for my guidelines on reviews.
  • Contact – feel free to contact me here on the ‘Contact’ page or on Twitter at @MrEPrimary.