Top books to read for tween girls this summer

Taking the books on holiday!

I love the fact that the twins are passionate about reading and I am so proud that they are so good at it! They are currently on Ruby level which is an excellent place to be and reading helps with their spelling, English lessons and comprehension. It also helps with all of the other subjects too, the comprehension, the writing and the revision when the time comes.

After a disastrous Year 4 (4 changes of teacher in 1 year!) we shall be pleased to see the back of it but I do feel it is more important than ever to keep the girls ticking over during the summer and reading is the perfect way to keep them amused and up to date. Bonus for me that it won’t be a hardship, maths, well maths will require the patience of a saint this summer…

There are so many fantastic books out there that when Harper Collins asked if we’d like to review some titles for them I jumped at the chance. The good news is, the books were all so good (sent just before last half term) that I’m going to have to go out and buy some more. Fortunately, many of the titles below were the first book in a series, so I know exactly what to buy them!

The girls are working their way through them,  here’s what they had to say…

Geek Girl – Holly Smale

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the first book that Alice chose out of the six we were sent to review and she couldn’t put it down. Bessie is reading it at the moment.

“My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a geek.” 

Harriet knows a lot of things, all sorts of things but she doesn’t know why nobody seems to like her at school. This is one of children’s greatest fears: not being liked by their school friends. It can cause great upset and reading about another child’s take on the situation helps in understanding how they can get on more.

Harriet goes into modelling, which of course isn’t going to be everyone’s way out of the problem. In fact, it doesn’t help Harriet much either as the reader will find out. So it’s up to Harriet to look for another alternative and that’s where the can’t-put-the-book-down syndrome kicks in.

Alice says: I really loved this book and want to read the others now.

Blink and you die – Ruby Redfort

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby Redfort: undercover agent, code-cracker and thirteen-year-old genius – you can count on her when the ice starts to crack.

All good things come to an end… Ruby Redfort is running scared, a whole bunch of people want her dead and worst of all one of them is on her team. But just who is this agent of doom?

You can run, Ruby, but you can’t hide…

Alice says: I couldn’t get into this book so I have put it to one side to try later on.

Scarlet and Ivy, The Lights Under The Lake – Sophie Cleverly

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scarlet and Ivy’s school trip takes a turn for the worse as another mystery begins to unfold…

The fourth book in the SCARLET AND IVY series is perfect for fans of MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE.

It’s summer and as a special treat after the horrors of last term Mrs Knight announces a school trip to Shady Pines Hotel on the shores of Lake Seren. Scarlet and Ivy are thrilled to get away from Rookwood for a break!

But the old hotel and the waters of the lake reservoir are covering up dark secrets. And when mysterious things start happening to hotel guests it seems that a malicious new threat is haunting the girls.

Locals say that at night you can hear the ringing of the church bells and see lights under the lake, that troubled souls buried in the flooded graveyard no longer rest…

Bessie’s first pick. she says: I really  loved this book and want to collect the others now too.

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Fran the Fabulous Fairy turns up in Tiga Whicabim’s shed to tell her she’s a witch, Tiga doesn’t believe her. Or at least not until Fran points out that TIGA WHICABIM is actually an anagram of I AM A BIG WITCH and magics her away down the drainpipes to compete in Witch Wars – the competition to crown the next Top Witch of Ritzy City.

Filled with silly spells, delectable dresses, ridiculous riddles and a serious shoe problem, Witch Wars is a witch story like no other. Although if you enjoyed The Worst Witch, you’ll love this too!

Bessie says: This was really funny and I really enjoyed it.

Radio Boy – Christian O’Connell

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice read this book and loved it, see what she has to say …

From leading breakfast radio star Christian O’Connell comes a brilliant and laugh-out-loud story of an ordinary boy with an extraordinary secret radio show. (Broadcast from his shed.)

Meet Spike, aka Radio Boy: a new Adrian Mole on the radio for the internet generation.

Spike’s your average awkward 11 year old, funny and cheeky and with a mum to reckon with. When he becomes the first presenter ever to be sacked from hospital radio, he decides to carry on from a makeshift studio in the garden shed, with the help of his best friends Artie and Holly, disguising his voice and going by the moniker Radio Boy.

Week by week, word gets around and soon Spike is a star… if only people knew it was actually him. When Spike begins to believe his own hype, and goes too far with his mocking of the school headmaster, a hunt is launched for the mysterious Radio Boy.

Can Spike remain anonymous? Will he get to marry the girl of his dreams, Katherine Hamilton? Will he become famous and popular? The answer to most of these questions is no…

Alice says: Such a good book, it made me laugh a lot and I couldn’t put it down.

Goodly and Grave in a bad case of kidnap – Justine Windsor

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An archly funny, classic mystery adventure with a magic twist!

Lucy Goodly is the new boot girl at Grave Hall, working for the cold, aloof Lord Grave. The other staff – Vonk the Butler, Mrs Crawley the cook and Violet the scullery maid – all seem friendly but Lucy soon notices that strange things are afoot in her new home – and not just Mrs Crawley’s experimental anchovy omelettes. There are moving statues, magical books and Lord Grave has a secret. Meanwhile, all over the country, children are vanishing. Could the mystery of the missing children be linked to the strange goings-on? Lucy is determined to find out…

Nobody has read this one yet but judging by the standards of the others sent through, we think this is going to be a really good read.

Skulduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the great Skulduggery Pleasant: wise-cracking detective, powerful magician, master of dirty tricks and burglary (in the name of the greater good, of course).

Oh yeah. And dead.

Then there’s his sidekick, Stephanie. She’s… well, she’s a twelve-year-old girl. With a pair like this on the case, evil had better watch out…

“So you won’t keep anything from me again?”
He put his hand to his chest. “Cross my heart and hope to die.”
“Okay then. Though you don’t actually have a heart,” she said.
“I know.”
“And technically, you’ve already died.”
“I know that too.”
“Just so we’re clear.”

Stephanie’s uncle Gordon is a writer of horror fiction. But when he dies and leaves her his estate, Stephanie learns that while he may have written horror, it certainly wasn’t fiction.

Pursued by evil forces intent on recovering a mysterious key, Stephanie finds help from an unusual source – the wisecracking skeleton of a dead wizard.

When all hell breaks loose, it’s lucky for Skulduggery that he’s already dead. Though he’s about to discover that being a skeleton doesn’t stop you from being tortured, if the torturer is determined enough. And if there’s anything Skulduggery hates, it’s torture… Will evil win the day? Will Stephanie and Skulduggery stop bickering long enough to stop it? One thing’s for sure: evil won’t know what’s hit it.

Nobody has read this one yet but judging by the standards of the others sent through, we think this is going to be a really good read.

A lovely selection of great books that will keep tweens hanging on for more, why not invest in a couple or see if your local library has them?

Disclosure: Harper Collins sent us through these books to read for the purpose of this post, we would really recommend them to you

Ballerina DVD

Ballerina was one film that the twins saw at the cinema and said immediately they wanted to see again, they adored it. I knew that when it came out on DVD it would be worth purchasing as the girls could watch and re-watch as many times as they liked. They do three dance lessons a week including tap, modern and ballet so, Ballerina really speaks to them and inspires them to improve and follow their own dreams.

The story is centred around Felicie, a young orphan with the single passion of becoming a prima ballerina. Felicie doesn’t walk anywhere, she dances and leaps and twirls and springs. Tables and chairs don’t get in her way, she glides over them, slides across them or pirouettes around them. Felicie is obsessed with dancing. Her best friend in the orphanage is Victor. Victor is an aspiring inventor, he is always making machines or objects, some work out but most don’t. However, this doesn’t deter Victor in his mission to become a famous inventor. He is also a tiny bit in love with Felicie. Together the children hatch a plan to escape the orphanage and run away to Paris where their dreams can come true.

Ballerina follows the children and watches how they do everything in their power to make their dreams come true, including the odd lie here and there (Felicie).

It is a very enjoyable film and one I shall enjoy watching again with them too.

In case you want to add it to your home viewing bookcase then today – 17th April you can, Ballerina is available for Digital Download and also in Blu-ray and DVD versions courtesy of Entertainment One.

Cast includes:-

Elle Fanning (Maleficent, Super 8) as aspiring young dancer, Félicie;
Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Lawless) as Félicie’s best friend and aspiring inventor, Victor;
Carly Rae Jepsen (Castle, Grease Live!) as former prima ballerina, Odette;
Maddie Ziegler (Pretty Little Liars, Dance Moms) as a snobby trained ballerina, Camille Le Haut.

Download the free activity sheet below for the Ballerinas in your home.

Ballerina activity sheet

Disclosure: We were sent a DVD to review – all opinions are our own and we really do love this film!

 

girls on bikes

It was bound to happen, wasn’t it?

In fact, husband went as far as to say to Bessie, as she stepped on the coach to leave with the Year 4 group Kingswood Camp bound, ‘Pick your jacket up! You’re going to lose it if you’re not careful!’

Yes, you already know where this is going, don’t you? One school trip later and one lost jacket.

dab pose

The teacher looked me as if I was dumb when I said, ‘It’s brand new.’ As we were specifically told not to send them with anything new. Do jackets count? Their old jackets have been around for two years and are looking very much the worse for wear. Husband, who delighted in reminding me told me, ‘Send them with their old coats.’ as I was packing and sorting out all of their kit. Did I listen? Of course not!

dad and girls

Blacks had sent these perfect Berghaus jackets to review. They were waterproof, had removable fleeces on the inside, looked very smart and would be perfect for the weather at this time of year. The programme at Kingswood is fantastic, building dens, climbing high, zip wires and a lot of activity. They would be the perfect jackets to wear, fit for all weather and tough.

We had even tried them out on a visit to the coast a couple of weekends ago and decided they were fabulous.

Now we only have one and I am writing emails, contacting via Facebook and disturbing the teachers via email too to see if I have any luck getting it back, after all, it’s a really good coat and like all mums, I bought it big so it would last a year or two.

Westgate on Sea - ice cream

Blacks really have some great gear for kids for all weathers and all seasons. I must remember to thank them for the black waterproof trousers that were sent through as they did return, covered in mud but that’s what they were for. With elasticated waistbands that are easy to pull over jeans or leggings, they came in very handy on rainy days.

I do apologise if this post is shorter than usual but I really do want to find that jacket, you would too if you had one. So I’m going to start phoning and emailing until I am sure that nobody has the jacket. Wish me luck!

girls going on a school trip

Disclosure: We were sent two jackets for the girls to review and some waterproof trousers from Blacks, I really do like them and I’d love to find the lost one. All opinions are my own. You can find them on the following social channels too.

Twitter: @blacks_online     Instagram: blacks_online     Facebook: blacksonline

 

dad in a polo shirt

This weekend saw us return to Thanet to our family caravan, to open it up and get her ready for 2017.

Birchington Vale, previously known as Two Chimneys, was bought by Park Holidays UK and when we saw their plans for a new clubhouse and expansion of the park, we couldn’t resist investing in a static caravan of our own. Here’s our latest pic of how they are getting on.

Birchington Vale clubhouse progress

Our caravan has been closed since November as we knew we wouldn’t have time to visit, so you can imagine our excitement this weekend returning after such a long time?

I had a list as long as my arm of things to prepare and take with us; bedding, towels, items for the kitchen that I had taken home and some fun games for us to do together.

With the car packed to the hilt we set off and arrived for lunch.

Birchington Vale zipwire

There has been lots of progress on the clubhouse and we peeked through the bushes at the brand new play area with zip wire! The girls can’t wait to have a go on that!

Sunday was an early start as we were all excited to be there! The one day we can all sleep in, there were four of us in our bed by 7am!

We decided to go for a walk on the Ramsgate side of Thanet and parked after the town towards Dumpton Gap. It was a mild morning and we took a long walk along the prom stretching along the bottom of the cliffs. Bessie has brought her bouncy ball with her and if I had a pound for every time I said, ‘Don’t bounce it you’ll lose it.’ I’d be a rich woman today.

Thanet coastline

She did of course, lose it. They were throwing it against a cliff and it landed on top of a shelter, so dad climbed up (he hates heights) and retrieved the ball for her.

I know many wouldn’t have bothered but it was the ball from her latest Baebox and she was devastated at the thought of losing it, so up dad went.

dad rescuing the ball

‘Now, hold on to it and be careful!’ I said. Do you think she listened to me? Of course she didn’t it.

They were trying to see who could throw it as high up the cliff as possible and on the last try, it pinged off the cliff at an angle where no one was waiting to catch it and bounced, bounced, bounced off the prom and into the sea.

It is March.

The water is freezing.

But dad, unable to see Bessie cry, striped down to his underpants and braved the water much to the shock of a couple of cyclists who had stopped for a breather.

The water was a bit deeper than he thought it was going to be but he managed to fish the ball out of the bobbing waves.

dad rescuing the ball from the sea

That’s our dad that is, a superdad. He’s even got the red polo shirt to prove it!

 

Disclosure: Dad was asked to look at the polo shirts for men on Jacamo, a fabulous website with lots of great stuff for men.

Alice Weekes donating hair for wigs

A couple of weeks ago Alice wanted to have her hair cut short. Having heard about people donating hair for wigs coupled with the news her cousin Megan has been diagnosed with leukaemia and would lose her hair during the chemotherapy, she decided she wanted to donate her hair for a wig too.

She sent off her cut hair to the Little Princess Trust and to make the most of the moment we also decided to ask our family and friends to support her decision with donations to the charity. We had discovered that a single wig can cost from £350 – £500.

We set our target of £500, to cover the wig that Megan would be given, and we were totally overwhelmed to have smashed it making a grand total of £660.00. One of my favourite memories will be Alice asking me to check how much we were up to during the first few days.

donating hair for wigs

Donating hair for wigs

Bessie has been watching all the fuss quietly from the sidelines, she still doesn’t want to cut her hair off just yet but she has mentioned that one day, she would like to do the same.

The Little Princess Trust got in touch with us this week as they are organising a very fun event with Shrek’s Adventure! in London. They are looking to find a real-life Rapunzel and have asked us to help spread the word.

The #RealLifeRapunzel campaign is all about looking for the longest hair donations, do you know somebody who fits this bill?

For this competition, hair donations must exceed 12″/30cm and Shrek’s Adventure! in London will be offering the winner and four finalists fantastic prizes.

The finalists, together with three guests each will be invited to a VIP experience on the 29th April as part of ‘National Princess Week’. What will this include?

  • The VIP day will kick off with breakfast at Starbucks,
  • a VIP tour of the attraction,
  • free haircuts in Shrek’s ‘Throne Room’,
  • a makeover
  • goodie bags to take home.

There will be more surprises on the day too.

Weekes twins

Monica Glass, Little Princess Trust Charity Manager said, “The charity is looking for especially long hair donations at the moment and so the search is on!  Whilst we help boys as well as girls across the whole of the UK and Ireland, at the moment there is a need for particularly long hair donations.  It takes a number of donations to make a single wig and of course the longer the hair donation, the longer the wig.”

Steve Blackburn, General Manager of Shrek’s Adventure! added, “Shrek’s Adventure! London is home to lots of princesses and we are really proud to be working with the Little Princess Trust, spreading awareness of the incredible work they do and encouraging those with long hair to donate it for the benefit of children suffering from hair loss.”

How to enter the competition

  • Visit The Little Princess Trust competition page
  • Upload a clear photo of your hair, detailing what length you are willing to donate
  • Write, in no more than 350 words, why you think it is important to donate your hair

Closing date 31st March. finalists will be notified by the 7th April

There’s more, if you would like to donate your hair to The Little Princess Trust then you can have your haircut and styled on the 29th April, free of charge too. Terms and conditions apply, for more information please visit the website on the above link.

The Little Princess Trust are the charity who make wigs for boys and girls suffering from hair loss. To date they have given away nearly 5,000 real hair wigs to young people suffering with cancer and other medical conditions and they are constantly on the look out for people having their hair cut to donate it to them ( a minimum of 7″/17cms is required).