Lists · Picture Books

8 Picture Books about friendship and getting-along


There is no better way to discuss problems with small children than via a picture book. Lots of children encounter conflict at some point or another in their friendships. The difficulty with finding a book to help is that most guides are not specific enough. All of these books are about conflict and resolution, but the characters fall out for different reasons – Rainbow Fish thinks too much of himself, George won’t share, Hummingbird doesn’t respect boundaries and Something Else wants a Friend who is just like himself. Although these books are about the same theme, their messages are slightly different. 

Here are eight picture books about friendship -getting along, falling out and sharing. Check the key messages to understand what the book is about. birdThree by the Sea – Mini Grey

Cat, Dog and Mouse live by the sea. They get along just fine until a stranger arrives and offers them a free gift. He whispers things in their ears until Cat, Dog and Mouse no-longer trust each-other. Can they resolve their quarrels or is this the end of their life together? 

Key message – Don’t let anyone or anything come between an established friendship. 


Sharing A Shell – Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks 

Crab finds a new shell to live in but he doesn’t want to share it with anyone. Then a purple blob works its way in, then a brush. The trio realises they can help each other and it is the start of a new friendship. Life in the rockpool proves tough and crab decides he needs new housemates. What will it take for the three to make friends? 

Key message – We bring different things to a team 


Hector And Hummingbird – Nicholas John Frith

A hummingbird makes friends with a bear called Hector who loves the peace and quiet. When Hummingbird gets too noisy, Hector stomps off to be alone, but he finds he misses his friend. A story of difference, compromise and the need to give each other space.

Key message – Learn and be comfortable with each other’s boundaries. 


The Rainbow Fish – Marcus Pfister 

Rainbow Fish is the most beautiful fish in all the seas. He doesn’t have time to play with the ordinary, non-sparkly fish. When he refuses to share his sparkling scales the other fish stop trying to play. Suddenly Rainbow Fish is all alone. Could making friends be more important than being special? 

Key message – It is better to be ordinary and have friends than special and alone. 


Grumpy Frog – Ed Vere

Frog’s not grumpy. Not at all. Lots of things make Frog annoyed and he likes to win but he isn’t grumpy. The genius of this book is how we see Frog’s monologue pushing everyone else out of the story.

Key message – When we are grumpy we forget to listen to other people’s perspectives. 


Hortense And Shadow – Natalia and Lauren O’Hara

Hortense hates her shadow. It jumps out in unexpected places and frightens her. When Hortense shuts her shadow out of her life she thinks she is safe – but she reckons without a team of bandits. Who will save Hortense? 

Key message – We should overlook minor annoyances because friends are there to help in the darkest of times. 


This Is Our House – Michael Rosen and Bob Graham 

George’s cardboard house is for himself. It isn’t for people with red hair, girls, small people, twins, people with glasses or people who like tunnels. One by one, all of George’s friends are refused entry. Then they build a house of their own. George finds himself on the receiving end. George must rethink his attitude before his friends will let him in. 

Key message – If we make other people unwelcome nobody will want to play with us. This could also open some discussion about excluding people by traits – do we want a world in which certain groups feel unwelcome? 


Something Else – Kathryn Cave

Something Else is different to everyone else. His clothes are different, his food is different and he even plays different games to everyone else. Something Else retreats home. The same night, there is a knock at the door. Something is just like Something Else, but Something Else isn’t certain he wants to be friends with someone who is not like himself. 

Key message – we don’t have to be the same to get along. This would be useful if children are having difficulty with inclusivity. 


Young Adult Reviews

Review: Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles



…if Bennett’s Greysworth were to go, then we’d have to get a train to the nearest bookshop. And I wouldn’t get a staff discount or first dibs on any of those books. I wouldn’t be able to sit behind the counter in those bookshops, pretending to enjoy coffee, and dipping into a book that makes me look sophisticated and intellectual. 

(Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles. PP. 21 – 22.) 


Bennett’s bookshop has been Paige’s refuge for as long as she can remember. It gave her a place to escape the dull prospects of her hometown, it introduced her to other worlds and it gave her a Saturday job. Now the bookshop is due to close. Soon there will be nothing left on the high-street except cheap shoes and buskers.

Paige and her friend Holly vow to fight. They start an online petition to save the bookshop. Meanwhile, Paige is dealing with a major crush on art-school student Blaine Henderson. Will his belief in anarchy make or break the protest?


A contemporary novel perfect for fans of The Exact Opposite Of OK and It Only Happens In The Movies. A witty and wise-cracking protagonist faces up to situations which highlight modern issues.

The major theme is the affect high-street closures have on a town. The story looks particularly at easy access to books – Paige’s local library cuts its hours at the same time that Bennett’s announces its closure. Cutting access to books – access for everyone, because what the middle classes often forget is not everyone has the internet – affects literacy and aspiration. Paige lives in an area of low employment. Reading can open doors. It shows people other worlds. Beyond that, reading allows us to face our own insecurities. It dares us to change our lives and to believe in ourselves.

Blaine Henderson is an interesting character. He comes in like the typical boyfriend in a YA romance – boy walks in, girl experiences palpitations and can’t stop thinking about said boy. His character develops in a way which is more interesting than typical YA boyfriends. Blaine is an artist. He believes in anarchy, in the total freedom of the individual. Without any spoilers, the big question is whether his beliefs might save Bennett’s.

A  chatty, laugh-out-loud novel packed with contemporary references. It is lovely to see a YA novel which celebrates bookshops and bookish culture. With a second installment already in the works, Paige Turner (yes, really) is your new YA BFF.  


Thanks to ReadersFirst and Hot Key Books for my copy of Bookshop Girl. Opinions my own.

blog tour · Chat

Blog Tour: Memories of His Dark Materials stage production

Theatrical blog tour.jpg

Today is my blog spot on the Theatrical blog tour. The story follows Hope, who dreams of working behind stage at a theatre. My favourite thing about the story was the atmosphere. It captured the unique experience of watching a stage production. 

To celebrate the book, bloggers have been asked to recall their memories of going to the theatre. Let me take you back to 2005 and the stage adaptation of His Dark Materials. 


His Dark Materials premiered at the National Theatre in 2003 and was revived between November 2004 and April 2005. It condensed Pullman’s trilogy into two three-hour plays. I saw the production in March 2005.

Theatre Critic Michael Billington described the experience as a clipped hedge compared to Pullman’s forest but that’s not how the play appeared to my young eyes. It was like being swept inside Pullman’s magic. It was the closest I will ever come to cutting a window into the fabric of the universe and stepping into another world.

The story began at the end. Will and Lyra sat on a park bench. Although they spoke to each-other, they were having separate conversations. They could neither see nor hear each other. It was a fantastic hook. If you hadn’t known Pullman’s work you would have been intrigued about Will and Lyra’s circumstances.  

The adaptation brought out Will and Lyra’s character arcs. It is the story of their quest to embrace knowledge and reason against the rule of the Church. Side-stories and characters who might take the reader’s attention from this central arc were cut from the theatre production. Although this meant whole sections of the trilogy were lost – notably the sections which follow Mary Malone – it made a tighter story within the six-hour time-frame.

The actors I remember particularly are Adjoa Andoh as Serafina Pekkala, David Harewood as Lord Asriel and Lesley Manville as Mrs Coulter. The complex relationship between Coulter and Asriel was dramatised to perfection. Their final sequence in which the pair entered an eternal fall was met with standing ovation.

The puppet Joey from the National Theatre’s production of WarHorse has gone down in British cultural history. His Dark Materials deserves a similar legacy. The puppets were designed by Michael Curry, the same person who designed puppets for the stage version of The Lion King. The puppets used for the daemons and armoured bears did not recreate a whole animal but suggested their movements and behaviours. It would have been worth booking tickets twice-over -once to follow the story and once to watch the puppetry with wonder.   

Michael Billington’s criticism, which I referenced at the start of this post,  compared the production directly to the books. A play is never going to be the same as a novel. It is a different form of storytelling which embraces visual and audio magic to draw the audience into the story. Accept that a play will never replicate a novel and it is fair to say that the stage production of His Dark Materials was magical. It was an experience which will stay with me for life.


Have you seen a theatre production which stayed with you for life? Let me know in the comments below.

Chat · Guest Post

Guest Post: Bath, book, bed by Hannah from A Cup Of Wonderland.

I am delighted to welcome Hannah from A Cup Of Wonderland to my blog. A Cup Of Wonderland is a beautiful bookish blog with amazing photography and great reccomendations. If you haven’t found Hannah’s blog already, do check it out

Back in April, I wrote a post in support of BookTrust’s bath, book, bed campagain. I suggested adults and teenagers would do well to adopt this routine too. Hannah kindly agreed to give us a look at her own bath, book and bed habits. A big thanks to Hannah for your time. 


Bath, Book and Bed.

 A while ago on BookMurmuation, Louise published a post which was inspired by the Booktrust recent campaign of Bath, Book and Bed routine. Louise wrote about the importance such a routine has not only for children but for adults as well. I found her post incredibly insightful as Louise illustrated the importance of this routine by discussing her own. Now I happily admit that I am quite an inquisitive person, which perhaps is just a polieter way of saying incredibly nosy, so I quite enjoyed her post. Which is why I was equally delighted when Louise invited me onto her blog to write this post presenting my own Bath, Book then Bed routine.

I feel that before I begin this post, I should include a disclaimer. The majority of the time my routine is quite chaotic and probably not good because I am a phone addict and will watch YouTube videos or Netflix instead of going to sleep. But at least once a week or a couple of times a month, I like to set some time aside especially for this routine. I think it’s a great way of recharging your batteries, allowing yourself a break which is incredibly important if your a bit of a workaholic like me. Now onto my Bath, Book and Bed routine.


The Bath:

hannahbathIn my household I live with both my parents so normally when I plan to have one of these types of evenings, I make sure I get in the bathroom last as it means I can happily spend an hour or two in the bath with a nice bath bomb with no complaints or someone (my dad) banging on the door telling me to get out. At the moment my bath bomb of choice has been Lush bath bombs which I love immensely which is due to the fact that it’s one of the few types of bath bombs which don’t irritate my skin or psoriasis. The one which I used for this bath in particular was the Monster one which Lush released for Halloween and it’s my favourite which is why I been rationning the ones which I have remaining.

Once in the bath, I always have a book in hand. After all I will happily spend an hour or more enjoying a good soak with a good book and a cup of tea too.


The Book:

hannahbookThe most important part of the evening. Now I normally read in bath for a good portion of time before I get out and light some candles, dry off and then dive right back in. The book in choice for this post was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I saw the movie adaptation when it was released. I adore the film but reading the book made fall entirely in love with every single character, place, and aspect of the novel. If you haven’t read it then I would definitely recommend you purchasing it. 



hannahbedNow if the book is really really juicy, and I’m unable to put it down. I blow the candles, get my pjs on and slip into bed and continue reading. Which is better than normal as it means that my phone is not being used and I’m not working at all. Now when I finally put the book down and decided to go to sleep, unfortunately the plan deviated a little because my 6 month old pup Oscar, decided to bring his Micky Mouse up and wanted to play. So it was almost completely perfect then? Eventually I’ll to sleep.


Huge thank you to Louise for inviting  me to write this post as I too think it’s incredibly important to use your bedtime routine as a way of relaxing and having an allocated downtime.


blogging advice

Blogging Reflections: Find what works for you


Here is some advice for bloggers. New and not so new.  

Eighteen months ago I started a book blog. I expected to review and analyse books. Maybe ten or twelve people would follow me but mainly I was in it to talk about something I loved. Almost 400 followers later, here we are. Blogging is a hobby which has become a large part of my life. It is a hobby which I am getting better at. A hobby which I am still learning about. 

If I have discovered one thing in eighteen months it is this – you can’t do it all. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Snapchat. Not to mention all the other websites and platforms you could engage with. There are bookish Twitter chats nearly every night of the week, and that is without readathons and challenges and one-off events.

Here’s the big question most bloggers ask themselves – how do you find out what works best?

Blogging is a journey. New bloggers are like explorers standing on the edge of uncharted territory. Sure, they have cobbled together a map from advice posts and videos and things they have picked up in conversation. That doesn’t mean you know what to do. Until you have checked out those platforms and spent some time creating content you don’t know what works. Here’s the secret all new bloggers need – every one of those platforms is about communication, but every one requires a slightly different approach.

I love Twitter. It is about summarising key information, catching people’s attention and building a like-minded Network. Aside from my blog, Twitter is my social media home. I’m enjoying figuring out Instagram although I’m finding it a challenge. Thankfully I am past the point of just snapping a wonky shot of the book cover but it has taken time for me to use my books to create something visually attractive. There’s a long way to go, but I’m enjoying the process. Facebook isn’t for me.

Eighteen months on I know which platforms I like best, That’s not to say I regret the earlier stages of my blogging when I juggled too much and tried a bit of everything. I learned so much along the way and I know that made me a better blogger in the long-run.

New bloggers are like explorers on the edge of uncharted territory. Find the lay of the land, then figure out which route works best for you. Your answer will be different from mine will be different from someone else’s. In short:

Find out how things work before you discount them.

Once you have learned about a platform, figure out to what extent you want to use it. If at all.

What works best is what works for you. You can’t do it all, but you need to know what is out there. In a constantly shifting landscape, you need to remain open to new ideas and new methods of communication. So long as you are open to learning and friendly to everyone you meet along the way, you will do fine.


Louise Nettleton

Do you use multiple platforms? What works best for you?




Middle Grade Reviews

Review: What Manor Of Murder? by Christopher William Hill.

What Manor Of Murder? – a new middle-grade mystery perfect for fans of Robin Stevens.




‘His bramble claws scratch scratch at the windowpanes. And his face …’ He shook his head and moaned in horror. ‘Such a terrible face. It’s not skin as you might think, but more alike to sackcloth than human flesh. His breath is of the marsh. There’s no hair to speak of; instead the creature’s all over brambles. And when he catches his victims, he drags ’em down to their deaths in the marsh water …’ 

(What Manor Of Murder? by Christopher William Hill. PP. 24 – 25.) 


On Michaelmas Eve, Old Bramble Head rises from the marshes and claims another victim from the Bleakley Household. So says legend. Brothers Eustace and Horatio Bleakley are sent to stay with their aunt and uncle on Michaelmas Eve. When a body is found in the study, the pair must work out whether the death was down to Old Bramble Head, or if there is foul work at play.

Joined by their cousin Loveday and ‘Poor Unfortunate’ Oliver Davenport, the children set to work investigating the suspects and solving the mystery. An entertaining middle-grade mystery.birdReview:

Mix Robin Stevens with Gareth P Jones and this would be the result. The puzzle – because all mysteries have puzzles at their heart – is a classic murder mystery. A body is found and a group of suspects is investigated and ruled out in turn. What makes this spectacularly entertaining is the setting. It is lightly gothic. Regular readers know I am a sucker for anything folksy, and the legend of Old Bramble Head was the perfect hook to keep me interested at the characters were introduced.

The detective gang is made up of memorable characters. I particularly liked Loveday, who writes and edits the Murder and Mayhem Magazine to pass the time at boarding school. I also liked Oliver Davenport, the ‘Poor Unfortunate’ who capitalises on the sympathy of his late parents’ wealthy connections and talks about murder in a totally off-hand way. Although the series sets Eustace and Horatio up as the main characters, I would get behind a story lead by Loveday and her co-writer and partner-in-crime.

The suspects and victim were equally interesting and their backstories helped to set the story early in the 20th Century. Great Aunt Henrietta is a crime-writer to rival Agatha Christie. Uncle Theodore is an explorer and Egyptologist with a stash of treasure. The characters come from both upstairs and downstairs, with the change in butler and footman causing an inciting mystery for the children to investigate.

The ending brought a satisfying ending to the puzzle and made total sense when I looked back over the clues. The old legend gave a fresh twist to the traditional murder-mystery. I am excited to see where this series goes and look forward to the next mystery from Christopher William Hill.


Thanks to Hachette Children’s for my copy of What Manor Of Murder? – opinions my own.

Young Adult Reviews

Q&A: Author Melvin Burgess

Q&A: YA Author Melvin Burgess answers some questions. 

51ffcqken9l-_sx323_bo1204203200_I am delighted to welcome Melvin Burgess to my blog. His title – the Godfather of young adult fiction – is justly earned. Burgess’s fiction approached subjects and styles which appealed to a young adult audience years before YA was recognised as a category. Burgess is one of the most versatile YA authors. He has written about drugs, Vikings, WW2 and virginity. His forthcoming novel – The Lost Witch – is a fantasy about a young woman with visions who doesn’t know who to trust. Should she believe her parents, who tell her she is hallucinating, or the mysterious strangers who tell her she has the power of a witch. 

NYALitFest – The Supernatural And The Strange

Melvin Burgess will appear at NYALitFest – The Supernatural And The Strange on Saturday 21st July. Regular readers will remember how impressed I was with the first NYALitFest earlier this year. The line-up for the forthcoming event is equally impressive and I can’t wait to hear more. Tickets are still available here. 

A big thanks to Melvin Burgess for your time. 


Interview with Melvin Burgess

Q: Bea is a skater. What made you think of a skater-witch?
A: I always think of skating as an alt hobby – little bit different,
little bit left of field. How else would a witch spend their spare time? My
witches have a relationship with the spirit world, that’s where they
get their magic from. But if they were the storybook kind with spells
and black cat, I reckon they’d have replaced their brooms with a
skateboard by now.
Q: Your story is set in the modern day, yet it is a story of
ancient powers. Why did you decide to set it in the modern day?
A: The past has already happened, it’s safe. the future isn’t even here
yet – but the present is right where you are. I like my stories to have
an edge – I like it so that you never really know what’ll happen next.
Yes- the present is definitely my favourite tense.
– Being disbelieved by her parents is as frightening to Bea as
being hunted. 
Q: Can you tell us more about the psychological story?
A: In that first part of the book, it’s all about who Bea is are, who
she belongs to, who she belongs with. As you grow up you gradually find
your parents play a smaller role in your life, but to be taken away from
too soon is a very scary and dangerous thing. Bea is a loving person –
she can’t help it, that’s just the way she is – and the idea that she’s
turning into something that her parents can’t understand, or that she
could even be dangerous to them, is a dreadful thing for her to cope with.
Q: If you could choose a magical power, what would it be and why?
A: I’d choose the power to make to make friends – which answers your
next question as well! But if I could have a power without losing my
friends, I’d pick one of the powers witches have – to have my spirit
enter the body of any creature I chose, and to share their life for
a while.
Q: Would you rather have friends and no powers, or magic and no
A: Friends any time.
Thanks to Melvin Burgess for your answers and to Hazel Holmes for arranging the interview. Melvin Burgess will be at NYALitFest – The Supernatural and The Fantastical on 21st July.