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The Lost Queen by Carol McGrath #Review

  We travel back to the 12th Century for this gorgeous historical novel, The Lost Queen by Carol McGrath . It was published by Headline Accent on 18th July. 1191 and the Third Crusade is underway . .  It is 1191 and King Richard the Lionheart is on crusade to pitch battle against Saladin and liberate the city of Jerusalem and her lands. His mother, the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine and his promised bride, Princess Berengaria of Navarre, make a perilous journey over the Alps in midwinter. They are to rendezvous with Richard in the Sicilian port of Messina. There are hazards along the way - vicious assassins, marauding pirates, violent storms and a shipwreck. Berengaria is as feisty as her foes and, surviving it all, she and Richard marry in Cyprus. England needs an heir. But first, Richard and his Queen must return home . . . The Lost Queen is a thrilling medieval story of high adventure, survival, friendship and the enduring love of a Queen for her King.   My Thoughts

Children's Books: Harley Hound and Red Spotted Ned by Chris Jones #Reviews

Today I am featuring two Children's Books, Harley Hound and Red Spotted Ned


Harley Hound by Chris Jones is illustrated by Becca Wain. 

This children''s rhyming picture book is about a dog who learns to accept being herself. It's aim is to help children feel more comfortable in their own skin and love who they are.

Harley is a basset hound. And being a basset hound brings certain challenges!

Then one day, something incredible happens! With the help of a strange, moustache wearing man on the talking box machine, Harley is able to be the dog she’d always dreamt of being. She could do all the things she saw other dogs do – carry huge sticks, catch balls in mid-air … she was top-dog.

However, being someone she’s not, wasn’t all she’d imagined it would be. Because others liked her just the way she was…

Particularly suitable for ages 4-8, this beautifully illustrated picture book has a message to deliver: Accept who you are. Written in rhyme, it would be great to share with young children. The text is clearly presented and in manageable 4 line chunks per page, accessible for early readers. Harley is an appealing character and the story is a fun read which is relatable. 

Red Spotted Ned by Chris Jones and illustrated by Sarah Marsh is colourful and fun. 

Ned is a spotted monster. A very angry spotted monster. And when he gets mad - which is most of the time - his spots turn an angry shade of red. The brunt of his ire is mild-mannered next door neighbour Yuri, who just wants to make Ned happy. Can Ned change his ways and become the loveable, green-spotted monster Yuri believes he secretly is? 

Suitable for 4-8 year olds, this picture book has bold, colourful pictures and is also written in rhyme. It is particularly apt for sharing and discussing anger issues with very young children. I do have a slight reservation for young readers as the font is a mixture of upper and lower case. Although this makes the appearance of the page look fun and unfettered, I do prefer a consistency in letters for early readers. This small gripe aside, I can see that the picture book will appeal to children who will enjoy its bold covers and little monsters.

About the Author


For as long as he can remember, Chris has had a huge passion for storytelling. When his son was a young boy, instead of reading bedtime stories, they would make up their own far-fetched tales around the fictional superhero Deadly Derek. In fact, this has remained his main Google account name ever since, which means that upon joining Zoom calls, his name appears as "Deadly Derek" - much to the amusement of his network!

So far in 2021, he has published three children’s rhyming picture books, with two more on the way. His stories combine humour with beautifully crafted rhyming verse that challenge young readers using subtle alliteration and powerful vocabulary.  He believes that children’s stories should have a positive moral without preaching or being overly serious. The result are joyous stories that will captivate and educate in equal measure.

You can follow Chris here: Twitter

Book links: Red Spotted Ned   |   Harley Hound

Thanks to Heather Fitt of Overview Media and Chris Jones for a copy of the books and a place on the tour. 

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