Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Look behind you by Sibel Hodge

Chloe Benson wakes up to find herself bound and trapped in a dark space underground with no memory of how she got there - the only clue a bump on her head.  Determined to survive, she manages to escape only to find herself in a deeper nightmare.  Somehow weeks have gone by since her last memory, weeks that have seen her committed for her own safety after a severe reaction to a drug.  Because of what happened to her when she took the drugs, and because there are sleeping pills in her system, everyone doubts her story - the doctors, the police, and especially her husband Liam.

Home from the hospital Chloe can't help but feel that something isn't right, that there is something just below the surface she is missing.  Her only logical option is to try and figure out what happened in the seven weeks she can't remember, because somewhere in those seven weeks are the clues she needs to figure out if her kidnapping was a drug induced hallucination or if someone really is trying to harm her.  The more she looks into her past the more Chloe realises that she may still be in danger, and the more she realises that she may be on her own because no one thinks she is really in danger - they all think she has lost the plot again.

I wasn't expecting a lot from Look behind you - mainly because it is a relatively short book and because the description on the back of the book was so brief and generic.  Imagine my surprise then when I picked the book up and didn't put it down again until I had finished all 280 pages in one sitting.  One of the things that sucks you into the story is the fact that you see the world through Chloe's eyes, learning facts only as she learns them which makes the whole world a scary place and one that seems to have Chloe (and you) constantly on edge.  There is not a single moment, from when she opens her eyes underground to the end of the novel, where you are truly on solid footing with the story - the facts seem to shift and turn as soon as Chloe tries to pin them down which leaves you feeling just as confused and unsettled as she is.

This is a quick read, but it is also a very satisfying one - one that can be finished in bite sized chunks of short chapters.  I was not the only person in my family to read Look behind you, my 60+ year old mother also thoroughly enjoyed it.  While Hodge has set the story in the United Kingdom, it could have been written nearly anywhere in the world and there is very little jargon or colloquialisms to knock you out of the story.  A very enjoyable read, and hopefully there will be more in this genre from Hodge in the future.

If you like this book then try:
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • The silence of the lambs by Thomas Harris
  • Vodka doesn't freeze by Leah Giarratano
  • The surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
  • One step too far by Tina Seskis
  • The postcard killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
  • The basement by Stephen Leather
  • The surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
  • Level 26: Dark origins by Anthony E. Zuiker and Duane Swierczynski
  • Now you see her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • The postcard killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
  • Private Oz by James Patterson and Michael White
  • The survivors club by Lisa Gardner
  • Darkly dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
  • Kill switch by Neal Baer & Jonathan Greene
  • The edge of normal by Carla Norton

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, December 29, 2014

Blood of my blood by Barry Lyga

Blood of my blood is the final book in the I hunt killers trilogy so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first two books in the series.  I highly recommend reading this series in order so check out I hunt killers and Game before you read any more of this review.

Jazz has faced some challenging and confronting moments in the past, but that is has not really prepared him for the reality of his father being loose in the world again because of him - coincidentally it also doesn't prepare him for dealing with a bullet in the leg.  Jazz has been groomed his whole life to be a cunning predator among the unsuspecting masses and those skills finally come into play in a major way when he finds himself on the wrong side of the NYPD and has to flee from the city.  All those lessons about spotting prospects allows him to escape from the hospital and the local area, but is it enough to keep him one step ahead of the NYPD until he can get to safety?

Howie and Connie are facing their own challenges courtesy of the Dent family.  Connie has fallen into the hands of Billy Dent in New York and he has special plans for the girl that he doesn't feel is good enough for his son.  In Lobo's Nod Howie has landed in the hospital (again) because of the danger stalking Jazz.  Jazz will do almost anything to protect his friends, and that loyalty is a source of strenght and a weakness that can be exploited by Billy.  In a deadly game of catch up and cat and mouse Jazz is on the trail of Billy, but that same trail will lead him into the hands of the Crow King - and the Crow King has plans for dear little Jasper Dent.

The I hunt killers trilogy has been a real treat, especially for a reader who enjoys well defined characters, believable interplay between characters, and twisted plots that don't pull their punches just because the book is written for teens.  Jazz is a fascinating character, not just because of the life he has lived and the experiences he has had, but also because of all the self doubt he has and the worry that he will turn into his father - a fear a lot of teens and young adults face as they move into adulthood.  The tension and pace of this series is also carefully controlled, moving from scene to scene rapidly and then slowing the pace to give you time to breathe and then launching into the next blur of action.  Lyga has once again managed to serve up his trademark mix of thrills, chills, and kills in this series closing book.

The wait for Blood of my blood has been particularly torturous because the ending of Game was such a cliffhanger - I have been waiting months to see what happened to Connie and Jazz!  This is a complex series which has emotional and visual scenes that would make it disturbing for most young to middle teens, but older teens transitioning from teen to adult books who enjoy crime and thrillers will find a lot to like in this series.  There is gore and violence, but it is not gratuitous and Lyga somehow manages to make things truly  gruesome and thrilling yet also somehow managing to keep the explicitly stated gruesome horrors to a minimum.  This series would make a mind blowing mini series or tv series, and it wouldn't really need to have too many changes made to make it accessible to adults out there rather than being slotted as a "teen tv series".

There is a lot to like here (thrills, adventure, loyalty, friendship, self discovery) and very little not to like (having to wait for the next book in the series!).  Hopefully this is not the last we have seen of Jazz - although the ending is rather nice and finalised.


If you like this book then try:
  • I hunt killers by Barry Lyga
  • Game by Barry Lyga
  • The book of blood and shadow by Robin Wasserman
  • The naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Acceleration by Graham McNamee
  • Death cloud by Andrew Lane
  • Crime seen by Jenny Pausacker
  • The murder complex by Lindsay Cummings
  • The Christopher killer by Alane Ferguson
  • Feral by Holly Schindler
  • Guy Langman, crime scene procrastinator by Josh Berk
  • Dead to you by Lisa McMann

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, December 26, 2014

Get happy by Mary Amato

Minerva was more than a little hopeful that she might get a ukulele for her sixteenth birthday, and she wasn't going to just rely on hopes and prayers either - she also stuck an ad up for the one she wanted on the family fridge.  When she opened her present from her mom there is no ukelele however, just another sense of disappointment about how little her mother actually gets about her.  A knock at the door signals the arrival of a parcel that will change Minerva's life forever - a parcel from the father that walked out on her when she was a toddler.

Opening the parcel is a life altering moment for Minerva as she suddenly realises that the father she always thought had abandoned her has reached out to her - reached out to her to form a connection.  This single discovery shakes her world and tips it upside down at a time when she is striving for independence and a sense of self that is seperate from her mother and what her mother wants her to become.  Taking a part time job will help Minerva earn some money so she can buy the ukulele of her dreams, but it will also add some interesting complications to her life.

Get happy is an intriguing mix of light and fluffy teen novel blended with a deep and emotional look at the implosion of a family that has been based on half-truths, subtle manipulations, and confronting moments.  I didn't know what to expect when I picked the novel up, but I definitely didn't get what I expected - and I am both happy and a little disappointed with the results.  Minerva is an interesting and engaging character, one that many teen girls will no doubt relate to as she comes to term with becoming sixteen and stepping closer to adulthood.  She is also a construct that represents thousands of teenagers worldwide who come from a "broken home" where one of the parents has left, leaving emotional wreckage in their path.  Minerva is also a somewhat shining star in a shallow sea of events that happen quickly and neatly in an orderly world that spins predictably out of control.  

This is a great example of a book that delivers more than the cover and the blurb promises, a pleasant surprise devoured in an afternoon on Boxing Day.  Get happy is a little treasure that deserves to be discovered and enjoyed - it blends light and fluffy with serious and heartbreaking to make the perfect blend of reading pleasure.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Touched by an alien by Gini Koch

Most people, when confronted with a scary monster straight out of a bad science fiction movie would either run for their lives or look around to see where the cavalry was - instead Katherine "Kitty" Katt kicks off her shoes and runs at the monster armed with nothing but a pen.  When she manages to stop the monster no one is more surprised than Kitty, especially when the gorgeous aliens in Armani turn up to mop up the damage and let her in a little secret - there are some nasty alien parasites on Earth who can take people over and turn them into superbeings with a variety of nasty "talents" that all spell death and disaster for the human population.  She also discovers Jeff Martini - who in only a few minutes declares his undying love and his determination to make Kitty his wife.

In a matter of days everything Kitty thought she knew about her world, her family, and the existence of aliens is thrown on its head.  For some reason the ultimate superbeing has set his sights on Kitty and he is determined to turn her to his cause - despite what she may have to say about the matter.  Surrounded by gorgeous aliens and their trusted human agents, Kitty slowly begins to understand how things work and why she might be a target - and she also begins to understand why Jeff finds her more than a little irresistible.  They say the true test of a relationship is how you handle stressful situations - and Kitty and Jeff are about to face a trial by fire that may destroy one or both of them, or the whole world.

Touched by an alien was an accidental discovery for me and one that I am very glad I found!  I found a later book in the series that one of our customers had requested and reading the back had me intrigued so I ordered the first book in the series - and I have not stopped smiling, laughing, smirking, and turning the pages quickly to find out what happens next since I picked the book up.  Kitty is the "perfect" heroine because she is so human, the perfect balance for the seemingly perfect aliens.  There is some truly laugh out loud moments because of the wonderful world Koch has created - particularly the interplay between the characters and the situations they find themselves in / put themselves in.  

This is a fast paced high octane read where the action takes place over just a few short days - but in those few short days a lot of action happens - and not all of it happens out in the field.  This is a book I really connected with because I have a tendency to enjoy books and tv series with a sense of humour - especially when that humour acts as a buffer for some serious action.  This series may not appeal to "true" science fiction fans because it blends in some action, some drama, some romance, and some comedy - but it was definitely my cup of tea.

If you like this book then try:
  • Children of the night by Mercedes Lackey
  • Jinx high by Mercedes Lackey
  • Blood price by Tanya Huff
  • Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff
  • Burning water by Mercedes Lackey
  • Spiders bite by Jennifer Estep
  • Dead witch walking by Kim Harrison
  • Angel's blood by Nalini Singh
  • Cast in shadow by Michelle Sagara
  • Kitty and the midnight hour by Carrie Vaughn
  • Undead and unwed by MaryJanice Davidson
  • Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander
  • Moon called by Patricia Briggs
  • Cry wolf by Patricia Briggs
  • Eight million gods by Wen Spencer
  • Alien taste by Wen Spencer
  • Tinker by Wen Spencer
  • Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway
  • Prowlers by Christopher Golden
  • Children of the night by Mercedes Lackey
  • Cast in shadow by Michelle Sagara
  • Summon the keeper by Tanya Huff

Reviewed by Brilla

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Curse of the Scarab by H.Y. Hanna

Honey the Great Dane is used to her comfortable life as an only dog with her human Olivia - but the peace and quiet is shattered when a house sitter arrives with a puppy in tow.  Bean is not just any puppy though, she is a big, bouncy and inquisitive Great Dane puppy.  The house sitter and Olivia think that Bean and Honey will be great friends, after all Bean looks just like Honey did at the same age - but Honey is not so sure.  When they go to the park for a walk it seems as though Bean is finally settling down and learning from Honey's example, but then she seems to vanish into thin air.

It seems as though Honey and her friends are the best hope of finding young Bean, especially with the help of one of the best noses around, but it soon becomes clear that there is a deeper mystery at work here.  Bean is not the first puppy to go missing in the neighbourhood, and all the dogs are unsettled like their humans.  Bean going missing brings it all home for Honey and she soon finds herself caught up in the excitement of the case as she and her friends begin the frantic search for the missing puppies.  

There were some unsavoury characters around when bean went missing - including a pit bull with a history of fighting and everyone is immediately suspicious of Max and his human.  But things are not so simple, and Honey and her friends will have to solve a puzzle or two if they want to get to the bottom of the mystery and save Bean.

Curse of the Scarab is the first book in the Big Honey Dog Mysteries, and I have to confess that I picked up the book because I know the author Hsin-Yi and because I was lucky enough to meet the real Honey and wanted to see what adventures she might have gotten up to in the books.  I have to confess that it was probably a disadvantage to have met the real Honey because I kept seeing her and remembering her throughout the first few chapters, and it took a few chapters for me to get absorbed in the fictional Honey rather than the real one.  I am very glad I persisted though as this has to be one of the better mysteries I have read for older children in recent years (and no I was not paid to say that or offered a comp copy of the book!).

Too often authors tone down their writing or avoid challenging words - most likely because they are worried the will out off potential readers.  There are no punches pulled here, the story stays true to itself - even when it gets a little scary and gory.  I loved the touch of Egyptian mythology that is infused with the story, and the way that you have to work a little for the answers rather than having them fall in your lap.  

This is an addictive and intriguing start to this series, and I sincerely hope that more people discover this series as Hsin-Yi Hanna has a deep understanding of dog psychology and a firm grasp of writing that makes this a believable and exciting read best devoured in one sitting.

If you like this book then try:



Reviewed by Brilla

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Backhoe Joe by Lori Alexander; illustrated by Craig Cameron

Nolan is collecting a few rocks one day when he hears a noise and turns around to find a stray backhoe in the middle of the street!  Nolan has always wanted a pet backhoe, and here is his chance - but first he has to convince the reluctant backhoe to come out of the bushes and trust him long enough to follow him home.  After winning over his new friend Nolan takes him home - only to find out that his parents are not so keen on the idea of an untrained backhoe around the house.  What will Nolan do, will he find a way to keep his new pet?

The cliche of the child saying a stray dog "followed me home and can I keep him" is given a delightful new twist with Backhoe Joe, where the stray "pet" takes a rather unexpected form.  I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I saw how carefully Nolan coaxes Joe out of the bushes and takes him home - it reminds me very much of a small ginger kitten I found when I was walking my dogs that ended up in my hoodie and taken home to "safety".  Like Nolan I wasn't able to keep the kitten, but this hilarious reminder had me smiling the whole way through.

If you have a pet mad child, if you love laugh out loud reads, or if you have a strange yearning to have your own backhoe pet then Backhoe Joe may be the perfect book for you.  I shared this with some of my colleagues and they loved it as much as I did - especially the dad with three boys!  This is one of those great books that works really well as a read aloud to an audience, or one on one to your own little person - and the best part is it wont date too badly because a backhoe is a backhoe and the clothing is pretty generic in terms of eras.  I loved this book and hope you will too.

If you like this book then try:
  • If I had a raptor by George O'Connor
  • Barnaby Bennett by Hannah Rainforth; illustrated by Ali Teo
  • Elephants cannot dance! by Mo Willems
  • Blue chicken by Deborah Freedman
  • New socks by Bob Shea
  • Wait! No paint! by Bruce Whately
  • I need my monster by Amanda Noll; illustrated by Howard McWilliam
  • Giggle, giggle, quack by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Betsy Lewin
  • Press here by Hervé Tullet
  • Cushie Butterfield (she's a little cow) by Colin McNaughton
  • If you give a mouse a cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff; illustrated by Felicia Bond
  • Don't push the button! by Bill Cotter
  • The monster at the end of this book by Jon Stone
  • Shout! Shout it out! by Denise Fleming

Reviewed by Brilla

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The book with no pictures by B.J. Novak

You would think that a picture book for children would need to include pictures - but the rather surprising fact (for some people anyway) is that a book doesn't need pictures to really engage with its audience!  

The reader is the source of the magic with books for children, as a skilled reader can make the most boring or confusing book engaging and easy through the use of their voice, tone, and enthusiasm.  Novak has taken the idea of the read aloud book and thrown it on its head - creating a book that pushes boundaries, pokes fun at the idea of sharing the pictures as well as the story, and makes the reader really work to keep their audience engaged.  

I found out about The book with no pictures because of a post on Facebook which showed Novak reading parts of his book to an audience of children - and I couldn't help but smile and laugh at their reactions.  Watching Novak in action made it very clear he is not only a clever and creative writer, but he is also a talented performer who can easy enthrall his audience.  

When you are reading aloud to an audience it can be terrifying and having a book that hooks your audience from the start is essential - and I may have finally found a book hear that suits the older children who still deserve to be read aloud to, but who are starting to be "too cool" for picture books.  There is a lot to like here for audiences of all ages, and if you are talented at voices and/or looking surprised (not to mention arguing with yourself) then this may just well be the perfect book!

Be warned this is not a book for the fainthearted reader - you really have to commit to reading this book, you can't do it half way or you will be cheating yourself and your audience.  I loved this book and look forward to the chance when I can read it with an audience of the right age group!

If you like this book then try:
  • If I had a raptor by George O'Connor
  • Barnaby Bennett by Hannah Rainforth; illustrated by Ali Teo
  • Don't push the button! by Bill Cotter
  • Elephants cannot dance! by Mo Willems
  • Blue chicken by Deborah Freedman
  • New socks by Bob Shea
  • Wait! No paint! by Bruce Whately
  • This book just ate my dog! by Richard Byrne
  • Giggle, giggle, quack by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Betsy Lewin
  • Press here by Hervé Tullet
  • Cushie Butterfield (she's a little cow) by Colin McNaughton
  • If you give a mouse a cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff; illustrated by Felicia Bond
  • The monster at the end of this book by Jon Stone

Reviewed by Brilla

I need my monster by Amanda Noll; illustrated by Howard McWilliam

A little boy goes to bed one night and finds a note from his monster Gabe saying he has gone fishing - how will he go to sleep without Gabe under the bed scratching his nails and gnashing his teeth?  He sneaks under the bed and quietly scratches on the floor in the hopes of attracting a new monster to cover for Gabe who will be gone for a whole week!  He soon gets a visit from a monster named Herbert, but will Herbert be as scary as Gabe?

It is a very rare thing to find a book about bedtime that has monsters under the bed as a good thing - especially one that handles the situation with class and humour.  I discovered this book when I was visiting a school and the class was watching the story being read on the big screen courtesy of YouTube and I couldn't get over how much pleasure they were all getting out of the story.  This was a mixed class of boys and girls aged nine to eleven and they were all watching in rapt attention and laughing out loud at the funny parts (of which there are many!).

This is one of those great picture books to share with older children who have not lost their sense of wonder (or sense of humour).  The children watching the book were aged 8 - 10 and they were completely absorbed in the story - as was I when i sat down and started watching.  I have read this book to some of my colleagues as well and had their rapt attention for the entire book.  If you are after a shared read where you can practice you deep and scary voices then this is for you.  

I loved this book, and if I had any children of the right age to buy for this would definitely be on my Christmas shopping list!  Hopefully this dynamic writing/illustrating duo have only just started their collaborating careers because the pictures and words are a perfect match.

If you like this book then try:
  • My friend is sad by Mo Willems
  • The splendid spotted snake by Betty Ann Schwartz & Alexander Wilensky
  • Elephants cannot dance! by Mo Willems
  • A is for musk ox by Erin Cabatingan & Matthew Myers
  • New socks by Bob Shea
  • Stomp! a dinosaur follow-the-leader story by Ruth Paul
  • The children who loved books by Peter Carnavas
  • No T.Rex in the library by Toni Buzzeo; ilustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa
  • Don't let the pigeon drive the bus by Mo Willems
  • Click, clack, moo: Cows that type by Doreen Cronin
  • Tadpole's promise by Jeanne Willis; illustrated by Tony Ross
  • No, David! by David Shannon
  • Croc and bird by Alexis Deacon

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, December 8, 2014

The heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

For the past few years FBI special agent Kate O'Hare has been focused on one thing and one thing only - capturing conman Nicholas Fox.  Nicholas Fox has made an art form of running some of the biggest cons and scams in the United States, and Kate has spent blood, sweat, and tears trying to capture him.  He always seems one step ahead of her, and he is not afraid to escape by the skin of his teeth - and he seems to delight in taunting her about her near misses as he skips away to freedom yet again.

When she finally manages to catch up with him it seems as though her years of living life on the run are finally over - which has its own share of challenges.  Coming back down to earth after years of action and high thrill chases is more than a little bumpy, especially when Kate goes from chasing international fugitives to DVD pirates (yes the FBI really does do that).  When Nick escapes from custody Kate ignores a direct order and goes after him, a task that she might just succeed in because her dad still has some contacts left over from his military days that could prove very helpful indeed.

Instead of finding Nick living like a hermit in some remote corner of the world, Kate soon discovers that she has been conned in the worst way possible by some of the people she has trusted the most.  To make matters even worse she has just found herself saddled with a new partner - Nick Fox!  After years of chasing him down, Kate now has to work alongside him as they work on bringing escaped felon Derek Griffin back to the United States to face the music after he stole $500 million dollars.  The only way to catch Griffin is to con him into trusting them, but for that to happen Kate has to find a way to trust Fox first.

I loved the early Stephanie Plum books so I was not surprised that I loved the quirky world that is Kate O'Hare and Nick Fox.  I was also not surprised that it was a book that seemed to read itself, and that I resented every time I had to put the book down!   The heist is a fabulous start to a new series that shows the smooth writing chemistry between Evanovich and Goldberg - and it really makes me want to go back to the beginning with Stephanie Plum to see if I enjoy the series as much as I remember I do.  I can't wait to clear some room on my reading shelves so I can pick up the second book in the series.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Freddy and the pig by Charlie Higson and Mark Chambers

Freddy didn't like school - he found it boring and would rather be anywhere else than in the classroom.  One day Freddy had the brilliant idea of dressing up a pig in his uniform and sending it to school in his place.  While the pig went to school Freddy stayed home and played his games and ate whatever he wanted.  As time passed the pig did such a good job of being a boy, and the Freddy did such a good job of being a pig that his mother began to have some interesting thoughts.

Freddy and the pig was one of those laugh out loud picture books that kept me guessing what was coming next when I read it the first time, and anticipating what was coming next ever other time I read it.  I have shared this with some of my colleagues (much in the same way I was introduced by a colleague) and they were just as amused/shocked as I was the first time I read it.

Stories that have a learning message are known as didactic stories and some of them are very blunt and lack subtlety - hitting you in the face with their message.  Freddy and the pig has a message about the dangers of being a lazy "pig", but it is delivered with charm and surprise rather than too bluntly.  This is a read for slightly older preschoolers and for children in their first few years of school as it will go over the heads of much younger readers - although the enjoyment parents express may make it easy for them to get into the story.

If you like this book then try:
  • If I had a raptor by George O'Connor
  • Barnaby Bennett by Hannah Rainforth; illustrated by Ali Teo
  • Elephants cannot dance! by Mo Willems
  • Blue chicken by Deborah Freedman
  • New socks by Bob Shea
  • Wait! No paint! by Bruce Whately
  • Giggle, giggle, quack by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Betsy Lewin
  • Press here by Hervé Tullet
  • Cushie Butterfield (she's a little cow) by Colin McNaughton
  • If you give a mouse a cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff; illustrated by Felicia Bond
  • The monster at the end of this book by Jon Stone
  • Shout! Shout it out! by Denise Fleming
  • The children who loved books by Peter Carnavas
  • No T.Rex in the library by Toni Buzzeo; ilustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa
  • Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
  • Don't let the pigeon drive the bus by Mo Willems
  • Click, clack, moo: Cows that type by Doreen Cronin
  • Tadpole's promise by Jeanne Willis; illustrated by Tony Ross
  • No, David! by David Shannon
  • Croc and bird by Alexis Deacon
  • Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
  • Stephanie's ponytail by Robert Munsch; illustrated by Michael Martchenko

Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

This book just ate my dog! by Richard Byrne

Bella was taking her dog for a walk across the page, such a simple thing to do, but the book has other ideas.  Bella makes it across the page with no problems, but halfway across the page her dog starts to disappear!  When Bella looks again her dog has completely disappeared - as does anyone who tries to help.  Soon there is nothing else for it and Bella has to go to the rescue herself - with hilarious results.

Picture books that truly encourage audience participation are not that common, and a book that truly engages the reader and makes them suspend belief is a rare gem indeed!  This book just ate my dog! is one of the best books I have found for engaging readers in the story, I had colleagues and two classes of children engaged from start to finish (and I don't think it is just because I have had a lot of practice reading to audiences either).

There are pauses in all the right places, there are unexpected surprises, and there is even a quirky twist at the end that made all the children laugh out loud - and most of the adults too.  This book works really well one-on-one but worked equally as well with a group of more than 30 children - and the children were aged from four-year-olds up to ten-year-olds so it suited a wide range of ages.

If you like this book then try:
  • If I had a raptor by George O'Connor
  • Barnaby Bennett by Hannah Rainforth; illustrated by Ali Teo
  • Don't push the button! by Bill Cotter
  • Elephants cannot dance! by Mo Willems
  • Blue chicken by Deborah Freedman
  • New socks by Bob Shea
  • Wait! No paint! by Bruce Whately
  • Giggle, giggle, quack by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Betsy Lewin
  • Press here by Hervé Tullet
  • Cushie Butterfield (she's a little cow) by Colin McNaughton
  • If you give a mouse a cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff; illustrated by Felicia Bond
  • The monster at the end of this book by Jon Stone
  • Shout! Shout it out! by Denise Fleming

Reviewed by Brilla