Saturday 28 March 2020

Review on Who Let the God's Out?

Elliot is just a normal twelve year old boy. That is until the constellation Virgo crash lands in his cowshed, leaving a gaping hole in the roof! If that wasn’t bad enough, Elliot accidentally releases an extremely dangerous daemon which gets Virgo in trouble with the zodiac council. Banned from using her powers, Virgo has only one option, she must make contact with Zeus, king of the Gods. However Zeus is far from what Virgo and Elliot were expecting. Instead of being mighty, Zeus is more on the chubby side, and spends his time getting married multiple times, and even manages to double book weddings! With the help of Zeus, Pegasus and Zeus’s children Hermes, Aphrodite and Athene, Elliot must stop Thanatos from collecting his chaos stones and becoming more powerful than Elliot could imagine.

As reading more middle grade was one of my resolutions, I thought I would start off the year by doing just that! Usually when I visit the library, I go straight to the YA section, but on my recent visit I actually stopped by the Middle Grade section and picked this up. The book follows Elliot, a boy who lives on a farm near Stonehenge with his mum. When Virgo comes crashing down to earth, Elliot must help her give ambrosia to a mysterious prisoner living under Stonehenge. However, Elliot makes a big mistake with even bigger consequences when he frees the prisoner, who turns out to be an evil daemon called Thanatos. As a huge Greek Mythology geek, I loved the idea behind this book. There were so many interesting characters from Zeus and Pegasus to Charon, the ferryman of the underworld and Hermes, the messenger of the Gods. I particularly loved Hermes, who loved social media and fashion. I thought it was particularly clever that since he is the messenger God, he kept track of everyone through an app and always knew where everyone was. It put a funny and modern twist on Hermes’ character which I loved. I thought he was the funniest character and he was definitely one of my favourites!

If the God’s weren’t enough, we also had the Zodiac Council, which is exactly what it sounds like! As we all know, each sign of the Zodiac has it’s own symbol, and things were taken pretty literally here with Pices being a somewhat angry fish, Leo being a lion, Cancer being a crab and- well you get the idea. This was all as overwhelming as it sounds for poor Virgo, the youngest member of the council, who’s main job was to make sure the stationary cupboard was well stocked, a boring job for anyone never mind a young constellation who was trying to prove her worth! We don’t see much of the other council members seeing as Virgo is on Earth and the story focuses on her and Elliot, which is a shame really as they were all pretty hilarious! Really I hope we get to see more of them in the rest of the series.

Something I adored about this book was how it managed to perfectly combine fantasy with reality. Not everything is talking horses, magical wishing stones and creepy daemons for Elliot, as we learn his mother is sick and they are in danger of losing their home. We aren’t told exactly what’s wrong with Elliot’s mum, but it seems to be early onset dementia. It was pretty heartbreaking seeing Elliot have to care for his mum by himself, as he was terrified he would be taken away from her if anyone found out. As my mum was a carer for her nan for years I’ve seen how challenging it can be, and I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for young carers. It was heart warming to see some of Elliot’s worries being lifted once the Olympians were around to help. Elliot didn’t have to worry so much when he knew someone was at home to take care of his mum while he was in school, and he even saw an improvement in his grades. Even just knowing you’re not facing everything alone can help a great deal.

I loved how silly and funny this book was! I don’t tend to read many funny books as my sense of humour can be different from other people’s, but I actually loved the humour in this book. I did think there were a few funny moments that young children might not understand, but I actually love when jokes are thrown in that might go over the heads of young readers but would give parents reading the book with their children a laugh. The humour and Maz’s take on all the God’s personalities were probably my favourite thing about the book!

I overall loved this book and I’m definitely planning on reading the rest of the series. Honestly I think reading more middle grade this year was a great decision as I’ve been missing out on amazing stories like this for years! I’m looking forward to reading more about Elliot and Virgo’s adventures.

Friday 13 March 2020

Q&A with P M McCormick

So today I have a Q&A with P M McCormick, author of The Fish with a Wish, a brilliant picture book that focuses on our impact on the environment!

 Hi Paula! Tell us a little about your book and the inspiration behind it.

It has always been my ambition to have a book published and I am in the process of writing a novel. However, in recent years the growing plastic crisis in our oceans and seas and watching the media coverage of this problem is very upsetting. I am not an expert in this field but would like to feel that by writing this book I have helped to raise awareness. I think that it is important for children to learn from an early age about how they can help to reduce the amount of plastic that we use and to think carefully about how it is disposed of. I hope that this book is both fun and at the same time plants a very important seed in the mind of our future generations.

Having future generations care about the environment is extremely important. What can parents do to make sure their children are aware of their environmental impact?

Children have access to the most wonderful information about the environment through books, the internet, schools and TV. Parents can encourage their children to learn about the effects that plastics are having on our seas and oceans and all the creatures that live in them. 

Sadly, we can’t all be like William and personally save sea creatures! What can we do to make sure that plastic doesn’t end up in our oceans?

We can try to buy less plastic and use the facilities that our Local Authorities provide us with to enable recycling of our plastic waste.

What are some things we can do to reduce our plastic waste?

Taking your own shopping bags to the supermarkets.  Take your own drinks bottle or cup to restaurants and say no to plastic cutlery of drinking straws.  When in the supermarket try to avoid weighing your fruit and veg in plastic bags.

William was such a fun character to draw!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! Finally just for a bit of fun, if Angel Fish could grant you three wishes, what would you wish for?

No problem, my first would be the same as William, for everyone to look after our seas and oceans.

My second wish would be to save all the beautiful creatures especially the orangutans in the rainforests that are losing their homes through deforestation and the palm oil plantations.

My third wish would be to raise awareness of the melting ice caps caused by global warming.

Perhaps these wishes will come true through my next two books that I have written which I hope are enjoyed as much as The Fish with a Wish

My Thoughts

As you probably know, I don’t normally review picture books, but this one had such as important topic I had to make an exception! I loved how Paula made a serious topic fun for children to learn about by showing how plastic pollution hurts Wiliam and his friends. By following William’s examples, even young children can start to learn about plastic pollution and think about where they are putting their litter. I loved how the book was in rhyming couplets, making the words flow. It made the book fun to read and perfect for reading out loud! I also have to mention the wonderful illustrators at Austin Macauley who really brought the story to life with all the wonderful pictures. Young children can often react to a picture more than to words, so seeing the seagull with plastic wrapped round it’s beak could really help them to understand better. I thought the book was a fun way to educate young children on plastic pollution and getting them to care about the environment!