Category Archives: Book Review

Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Regular readers of our blog will know we love books so when Hennie asked us to review this book I was excited to find out more. Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Il neige chez Betty and Cat In the snow by Hennie Jacobs and Christine Duvernois

Betty and Cat

Betty and Cat

It is a really interesting concept I’d not come across before. Hennie contacted me about her books and I was very interested to find out more.

In this story, Betty the dog and cat have lots of fun/ don’t want to play in the snow. It’s a fun story as Betty eventually shows cat how much fun snow can be (If you dress for the weather) hilarity ensues as they find ways to stay warm whilst they explore the beautiful snowy landscape outside the front door.

Hennie describes the books as follows: Betty & Cat is a series of children’s books that reflect the way today’s children play with language. You won’t find a translation, just two animals communicating: Cat in English and Betty in Dutch or French depending on the book.
I found it a bit strange to start with, never having come across a book like it before. As a multilingual family, we do often have conversations in two languages at the same time. For our family, this is very normal but I’ve never seen it on paper. Nathalia’s CD does this a lot.
My daughters had a look with me, and commented on the beautiful pictures. As a mum of children who have always loved to read (sometimes the same book over and over!) the illustration of the book is very very important.
This books helps bilingual children to see how normal and acceptable it is to switching between the two languages. This is often needed as bilingual children get older and want to fit in with their peers.
These books offer adults the opportunity to participate in the bilingual experience of the children. If relatives only speak one language they are still able to share a story with the child.

The books are also good for children who are struggling with learning English and who may not see the point of learning another language. The fun of the stories brings learning in by stealth, part of the everyday family life, in my opinion the best way to learn together as a family.

The books are a really interesting concept and a fun way to bring language learning into everyday. Have a look for yourself on http://www.bettyandcat.com/

The books are available in Spanish/English and Spanish French, as well as Dutch/French and the usual English with French, Dutch, or Spanish.

To find out more check out http://www.bettyandcat.com/

The Return of the Young Prince

the-return-of-young-princeThe Return of the Young Prince
Before I start I need to admit I have not read the Little Prince. I thought many times about reading it in French to help my French practice but had never done it.
When I heard the sequel was coming out in English I was intrigued.
My nine year old daughter began to read it but found it really hard going as she did not understand it. I would say the book is written for adults and deep thinking teens.

I expected a story, but it is actually a reflection on the joys and secrets of living a meaningful life.

I’ve not read a book like it before. We are invited on a journey with the traveller and his passenger, the boy (The young Prince). We listen in on the conversation they have with the driver often thinking aloud and the boy listening with interest. It is as if we also have a seat in the car with them. There is much to provoke thought and reflection on our own lives. The journey is not purely physical but a spiritual one. The book is full of rich description of the journey, it reminds me of Tolkien in Lord of the Rings. The dialogue on the journey encourages us (the reader) to take the time to notice the world around us and our place in it.

The writer AJ Roemmers says “ I see life as a great opportunity in which spiritual development is all important. I wrote this book in nine days of isolation. Emanating from the very depths of my being, it is an attempt to give some answers”
This sense of seeing another’s soul is strong in the book. At times, I felt like a voyeur on another’s personal journey. The book challenged me to think deeply about my worldview and what is important in life.
If you’re looking to go on journey to examine the importance of friendship, family, community and compassion this book is for you.
I’ll finish with some words of wisdom from the book.

“The path to joy and spiritual fulfilment requires the courage to change and grow”
“Really there’s only one way of changing the world, and that’s by changing yourself”
“if you are thankful for the obsticles in your way, you’ll waste less time complaining and lead a fuller life”
“True love is when you put another’s happiness above your own”

Watch the promotional video here.

If you wish to read this book in another language, The return of the young prince was written in Spanish and translated into English in 2016 but, not yet available in French.

Disclosure: I was given this book free of charge by the publisher for the purpose of review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Is that the mummy of Kleiner weißer Fisch?

kleiner-weisser-fisch

This weeks book is Kleiner weißer Fisch by Guido von Genechten published by ArsEdition

I’d love to tell you about my favourite German picture book. I first came across it in our local library who had it on loan from bright books. It is a beautiful, colourful board book written for native German speakers over two years.

The story follows the adventures of a little white fish who has lost his mummy. The text invites you get involved in the story “Is this the mummy of the little white fish?” No spoilers but it has a happy ending!

It has lots of repetition so it is quickly understood. I’ve used this book in a library setting and none native German speakers quickly joined in with ja and nein.

Through the story you will learn the names of the sea creatures in German, colours and yes and no. You will hear how questions are asked in German. My daughters learned their colours in German with the help of this book and bath fizzers (but that is another story)

I’ve used it with children up to eight years who have no previous knowledge of German. As you can see I use lots of props so the children can match the animal to the one in the story. I made my own little white fish. It is a really fun interactive story when can be enjoyed again and again.

This book was originally written in Dutch and I’ve also found a translation in French if these are your target languages.

I hope this blog has inspired you to share stories with your little one, however young or old they are.

You can buy your own copy here.

If you’d like to hear me reading the story in German. Have a look here.

If you missed the last picture book review have a look here.

Do you have any picture books you would recommend and why?

What shall we do with the BOO HOO BABY?

Some of the props we use with the book.

You may have noticed a few book reviews from my gorgeous girls recently. Well I’m not

Some of the props we use with the book.

Some of the props we use with the book.

missing out! At Lingotastic, we love to share stories together, (with puppets of course)

Before I start this series I need to issue a disclaimer. I will probably say of each book it’s my favourite! I love a good picture book and different picture books are good for different audiences and different languages. So what shall we do with the BOO HOO BABY?

This weeks book is

Qu’Est-Ce Qu’On Va Faire Avec Le Bébé Ouin Ouin ? What shall we do with the boo hoo baby?  By Cressida Cowell illustrated by Ingrid Godon. Published by Mantra Lingua.

This copy is in French and Engilsh but Manta Lingua have published it in 20 languages so I’m sure you’ll find one to suit you.

This is a bilingual book but I do not always read the English if they are understanding anyway.

The baby is crying and la vache, le chat, le chien and le canard do what they can to calm him down, with little effect until…. (no spoilers!)

This book has lots of repetition so little ones soon know what comes next.

It has animals and animal noises which is always a winner. Little ones love to join in with that almost as soon as the books starts which really makes it an interactive story. The pictures are lovely which I find so important in a picture book. When reading this with small children I have toys for them to hold, dogs, cats, cows and ducks. I start by letting them choose an animal and then talking about what noises the animals make.

As I read it to parents and little ones, both enjoy it. The parents were waiting with baited breath to see if the animals could calm a crying baby and I reckon to get some tips for themselves.

Many Mantra Lingua books are available in local libraries or buy your own copy.They are available in a huge variety of languages. These are the ones I would use at home or in our Lingotastic classes.

Do you have a favourite bilingual book? We’d love to know about it. Let us know in the comments below.

The hundred mile an hour dog -Master of disguise

 Jasmin and the hundred mile an hour dog

Jasmin and the hundred mile an hour dog

Hello, I’m Jasmin and I have been asked to write a review of The hundred mile an hour dog -Master of disguise by Jeremy Strong. I have already read The Problems with a Python so I was pleased to be asked to review this book.

My most favorite character is the dog named Streaker because he is fast and funny.

A brief outline of the story is that the dog was naughty and the dad tried to send it to boot camp so the boy disguised the dog and the dog gets dog-napped by accident.

I would recommend this book to boys and girls aged 6-10 who like books about mystery.
I like the whole book but my favorite bit was when they dyed Streaker’s fur white to disguise him.

There is an exciting competition running on the Jeremy Strong website. Print out a picture of Streaker the dog and create your own amazing disguise.

If this review of The hundred mile an hour dog -Master of disguise has made you want to read other books by the same author check these out.

Who is “the other Alice”?

wp-1468527407826.jpg

If you follow our blog regularly you’ll know we love books. My daughter Jasmin was sent “The Other Alice” by Michelle Harrison to review. So this is it.

We enjoy fantasy and magical stories in the genre of Terry Pratchett so we were really pleased to be asked to review this book. Mum read it to her nine year old. She thought it was a “bit scary” so mum read it on her own and will save it for when she is a bit older.

What did we think of “The Other Alice”?

It is a magical tale blurring reality and fiction with many surprises.

A rich and twisting tale of magic riddles and the power of imagination

The same day Alice disappears, her brother Midge thinks he has seen her walking down the street, so starts a story which brings into question what is real and what is imagined. The story feels like it could take place in any small town in the UK, with speckles of magic which appear at the most surprising points.

Alice is a writer. When she goes missing, a talking cat called Tabitha appears in her bedroom. Before long, Midge realises the only way to find out where Alice is is to ask for help from Tabitha,
the talking cat, Gypsy and Piper (who seem to be a lot like the characters from a story Alice had written) Soon Midge realises Alice’s stories contain the clues he needs to find his sister, before time runs out.

This is a very tense, dark, page turning adventure with plenty of twists and turns to keep a reader engaged in the story. It’s a spellbinding story for readers aged 12 plus.

We were sent this book proof (and a beautiful handmade paper cut cat) in exchange for our own honest review.

What did Katy do? Book review

Katy - book review

Katy – book review


We love to read. It’s great for expanding vocabulary and literacy. Jasmin has written another book review, here it is.

Hello my name is Jasmin and I’m 8 years old.I have been asked to write a review of “Katy” by Jacqueline Wilson.

The main characters are Katy, Izzie (Katy’s stepmum), Katy’s dad. One weekend they have a lady called Helen come to visit. Helen is in a wheelchair. They become good friends.

Could you tell us a little bit about the story?

A little bit about the story is that Katy broke her back and she was sad.

Where did the story take place?
The story took place in the town where Kate lives.

What did you think of the book?

The book was sad near the end.
I did not like it when Katy had an accident.
I would make the book better by having a happy ending.

What did you think of the cover?
I thought the cover was pretty because it is embossed and shiny.

Which character would you like to be and why?
I would like to be Katy because she is clever.

How long did it take you to read the book?
It took two nights to read this book.

Note from Mum: I think this book is written for older children (11+) as it needs a certain level of maturity to cope with the difficult themes in the story. Jacqueline Wilson writes at the end of the book, she wrote this book in response to the classic “What Katy Did” This classic book is now on our reading list.

We were sent this book to review by A Big Shot. These are our own views.

If you’d like to read this book you can get it here.

If you wish to read more of Jasmin’s book reviews have a look at these links Would you rent a Bridesmaid?
First book review of a seven year old reading monster. Review of The Person Controller by David Baddiel

Detecting with Dotty

Detecting with Dotty

Detecting with Dotty

Reading is a brilliant way to improve language skills. As a parent I love to encourage my children to read.  This is our Emily’s first ever book review. I’ve interviewed her to keep it simple.

What did you think of the book?
It was interesting. The part where Dotty has to guess the hidden code is very funny. (She was laughing out loud at this point!)

What do you think of the cover?
It was clever as she is called Dotty the detective and there are gold shiny dots. The cover matches her top in the picture.

What was your favourite bit and why?
The part where Dotty tries to guess the hidden code and gets it wrong and when McClusky joins in the singing on the stage.

Who is your favourite character and why?
I like McClusky (the dog), Dotty and Beans. McClusky is my very favourite as he saves the day and is very cute.

How would you persuade your friends to read this book?
I would say, “It’s good because there are some funny bits and some bits you’ll really enjoy”.
I think it is a book for boys and girls because McClusky is a boy and Dotty is a girl.

When I first showed Emily the book she was a bit intimidated by the length of it but, I suggested we could sit together and I would listen to her read a few chapters each evening. This worked really well and she really enjoyed the book.

Have we inspired you to read this book?

Get your copy here.

 

 

We were sent this book to review by  the Big Shot. The opinions given are entirely our own.

What does your family like to read? Let us know in the comments below.

Would you Rent a Bridesmaid ?

Jasmin_rent a BridesmaidIf you follow our blog regularly you’ll know we love to read. Reading is a great way of language acquisition as well as improving literacy and spelling, whatever the language. This week we have a book review by our Jasmin. So over to her…

Hi I’m Jasmin and I’m eight years old.
I have been asked to write a review of “Rent a Bridesmaid” by Jacqueline Wilson.

The main characters are Tilly, Matty (Tilly’s friend) and Tilly’s dad.

In the story Tilly wants to be a bridesmaid, so she puts an advert in Sid’s shop window. She gets three replies asking for her to be a bridesmaid. She is amazed at how many replies she gets.

The part which surprised me was when Tilly’s mum visited because I thought she would never come. This made me feel happy.

The most exciting part of the story was when Tilly got a reply asking for her to be a bridesmaid.

I would change the part when Tilly’s mum didn’t stay to her staying because then Tilly would be able to be a bridesmaid at her mum and dad’s wedding.

If I could write another ending, Tilly would go to lots more weddings and become famous.

Thank you Jasmin.

She read this 360 page book in just two evenings, a good sign she enjoyed it! I was really impressed by the extra activities at the end to design your own bridesmaid dress, finish a quiz about the book, make wedding favours and have fun with a wordsearch. As a mum there were lots of interesting relationships in the book to talk about together, which is great for pre teens.

Disclaimer: We were sent this book to review. The opinions expressed are entirely our own.

If you’d like to buy your own copy you can pick it up here

Is learning German difficult?

New year, new language? Here at Lingotastic we love learning languages and we love a challenge! The British Council brought out a report last week urging British people to learn a language in 2016.

Where do you start though? This week Maik is reviewing a brilliant book The A-Z of Learning German by Angelika Davey

German Bier

Is learning German difficult? I can’t really comment, as it is my native tongue. Having said that, if German children can manage it, then the perceived difficulty may just be a matter of the approach taken.A lot of language teaching is still very academical in its approach. This may work well for some people, but unless your aim is purely to read German material, a more conversational style maybe more suited to your language learning goals. The trouble with most language learning materials is, that they end up imposing a particular learning style on you, rather than letting you tailor the material to your own style and goals.
Angelika Davey’s book is not one of those books. Instead, it’s full of ideas to shake up the monotony of learning vocab lists and Grammar tables. Yes, you most likely will still need to refer to these things, but the strength of Angelika’s book is to open your eyes to the dozens of options you have to spice up a dreary learning session. As the title implies, the individual ideas are arranged alphabetically, and this is possibly the only weakness in this book. There is no thematic grouping, no progression, but then you may not want to read the whole book from beginning to end anyway. In most cases, you get a good idea by looking at the contents page which idea may work well for you, so you can jump straight to it. The only exception is possibly the chapter titled “Zwieback”! A lot of Angelika’s ideas are common sense, but as is often pointed out, the problem with common sense is that it’s not that common any more. I certainly found a lot of great ideas in the book to support my efforts with learning other languages, as a lot of the suggestions work not just for German.

In particular the chapter on using social media is packed full of information on how to use Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest , LinkedIn, Instagram etc. for language learning. There are also chapters dealing with the basics that few other teaching materials touch on, but are transferable across languages, such as believing in yourself, daring to speak and allowing enough time to make progress towards your language learning goals.

So, whatever level your German is at, you’ll find ideas to take your language learning to the next level, and even if you’re learning a different language, you will find helpful nuggets in Angelika’s “A-Z of Learning German”. I recommend you get your hands on a copy. browse through it and start implementing what you think will work best for you.

 

If you’re a member of Amazon Prime, or Kindle Unlimited, you can read the book completely free. You could sign up to Amazon Prime If not, you can benefit from Angelika’s hard work for a mere £1.99 (at the time of writing this review).

Just pop over to Amazon to get your copy ,The A to Z of Learning German: 26 ideas to make learning German more exciting and fun! and discover 26 ideas to make learning German – or another language for that matter – a lot more fun!

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