Sunday, 25 May 2014

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Roald Dahl

Recommended age: As from 6 years old.

Pablo L.C. (11 years old): "This book is an AMAZING story, a real work of art made by Roald Dahl, a brilliant man. When I was 6 years old I could not stop reading it, with its fantastic characters like the Oompa-Loompas and Mr Willy Wonka.

The book is filled with all types of wonderful sweets: hot ice cream for cold days, a rock candy mine, edible pillows, toffee apple trees and chocolate that travels through television! 

My favourite character is Mr Wonka, whom I am sure you will love. There´s also Charlie, a poor, unlucky boy who is in for a great surprise. You will hate the rotten children who get what they deserve at the end of the book.

A scrumdiddlyumptious book!"

Charlie and his family are very poor, but one day his luck changes as he finds one of the five golden tickets Mr Willy Wonka as hidden in his chocolate bars. The tickets are a prize to visit Mr Wonka´s mysterious Chocolate Factory. No one knows the reason of this unexpected invitation but Charlie is ready to discover the amazing and delicious surprises that await him.

You too are about to enter the wonderful world created by Willy Wonka, a world you would want to live in for ever! But do not worry, when you finish reading the book, there is a second part, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

Jaime L.C. (11 years old): ''This is a marvellous book, the story is about a poor boy, and a kind of miracle that happens to him which starts with a chocolate bar... I would recommend it to any reader, but specially to those with a liking to chocolate, imagination and the best fantasy!''

This book is a real treasure, as Pablo says, a work of art for all children. You can always go to a library and borrow some books, but for this particular one we strongly recommend that you buy it, it is a must-have for your own library. You will probably need to read it over and over us, reading this book is like living the best dream you can imagine!

There are a few film adaptations made from this book, all of them worth watching, but our favourite is the one directed by Tim Burton, with Johnny Depp staring as Mr Wonka. Click here to watch the official trailer. Don´t miss the one with Gene Wilder, though!

If you are in London or planning a visit, you cannot miss the amazing theatre musical of the book. We have been to see it with some friends who came over from Spain, and we all loved it!!  Click here to visit the theatre´s page.

Daniel L.C. (12 years old): "This musical was extremely entertaining and, as a matter of fact, my favourite scene in the play was the scene that is shown above. What is really interesting about this scene is that it is played in a special box to make it look like if it was in a TV screen (Charlie is watching TV at this point). All in all this play is very funny and I would recommend it to people of the ages of three to... as old as you can get!!"

If you would like to watch a selection of the songs as they were performed at the Royal Variety Performance 2013, click here.

Related activities.

Click here to visit Roald Dahl´s official web page. It is a lovely page, very amusing and interesting. And you will be updated with all the information about the author and his books.

Did you know...?

Roald Dahl was very unhappy at school, the only subject he enjoyed was games. Even the English teachers would give him bad reports!

This is a report from this English Composition teacher, when he was fourteen years old:

"I have never met a boy who so persistently writes the exact opposite of what he means. He seems incapable of marshalling his thoughts on paper."

So, do not be downhearted if you are not getting the grades you would like at school, just carry on trying hard and... who knows! you might end up as a renowned writer like Mr Dahl! (or artist, or scientist, or...)

Visit our Facebook page, La biblioteca de Miss McHaggis.

This post was published in Spanish on 10th June 2013.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery Pleasant
Derek Landy

Recommended age: as from 12 years old.

A thrilling story with magic, adventure, fighting, and a lot of humor! Oops, I nearly forgot to mention that one of the main characters is already dead!! Skulduggery is a detective, magician and warrior who while "passing by" gets to meet Stephanie and they become partners in fighting evil.

Pablo L.C. (11 years old): "The Skulduggery Pleasant series is one that I guarantee you will adore. All 8 books are crammed full of the most witty, scary and funny things you will ever find. Meet Billy-ray-sanguine the killer, Dusk the vampire, Fletcher the teleporter and Mevolants dreaded three generals.

As the series goes on the enemies get better, the fights get bloodier (including a sequence full of bloodthirsty zombies) and the impending threat of the all powerful, god-like Darquesse gets steadily worse and worse.

So buckle up and get ready for the funniest, goriest, most addictive books ever written. Watch out for the next Skulduggery book, Armaggedon out of here! (groan.)

Mert B. (12 years old):  "I've just finished a Skulduggery Pleasant book and it is exciting and very funny. It can be a little scary at times (not really) but I would definitely recommend these books to an age group from 9-13. It is a great book and I enjoyed a lot and I hope you´ll enjoy it too!"

Daniel L.C. (11 years old): "These books are amazing as they are not just action paked, but full of mystey, crime, a bit of gore, fantasy and magic, meaning that it has everything good enough to keep every reader reading until the last page!

What I liked about these books is that the main character is actually a girl, so girls can carry on reading without being overwhelmed with boyish stuff (lucky for us boys 90% of every epic character apart from her in the book is a boy!). My favorite one, who is actually not one person but many, are the most clever, they are perfect killing machines and amazingly cool."

This is Stephanie, a feisty, funny girl who gets involved in a world of magic, dark gods, psychotic killers and... all because of a mystery in his uncle´s life.

Jaime L.C. (11 years old)"These are an awesome bunch of books which get more violent and gory as you read on, they tell the story of a young girl who learns about magic and follows a detective to solve murders, capture evil wizards and stop faceless evil gods from coming into the world.

The detective´s name is Skuldugery Pleasant (this is a fake name that he uses, all wizards take fake names because names contain power and someone could make them do things they don´t want if they know their names). He is a skeleton whose family was killed and then he was tortured and killed and brought back to life!

I guarantee that anyone who is into magic, mystery and violence will love these books ( I do :)  )."

Related activities.

Visit the Skuldeggery web page, full of information about the books, the author and many more interesting facts, click here.

We had the chance to meet Derek Landy in London, at the Southbank Center. He talked about his books, the main characters in his stories and about his new projects. We got some of our books signed! He is really awesome!

Did you know...?

Derek Landy is from Ireland and his books include some interesting Rock and Roll references and imagery, from mentions to Aerosmith, the classic rock band known as the"bad boys from Boston", to the costumes and look of many of the characters... and special mentions to one of Ireland´s -and the world´s- biggest rock bands: Thin Lizzy.

Ireland has given the music world many great rock bands. The most important is, of course, U2, but for our friends in the blog and the books of Derek Landy Thin Lizzy is a better choice, as they were tough, hard-rocking, and their image was menacing and leather-clad.

Thin Lizzy formed in Dublin in 1969. The founding members met while still in school. Phil Lynott was the leader and main songwriter throughout their recording career of twelve studio albums, selling millions worldwide. Thin Lizzy are best known for songs like "Thunder and Lightning", "Jailbreak" and "The Boys Are Back in Town". Very bad boys indeed!. Derek Landy even named one of the chapters of Skulduggery Pleasant "Killer On The Loose"... like one of Thin Lizzy´s biggest hits. 

We welcome our latest team member.

Mert B. is 12 years old and he is our friend from school in London. He has a younger sister. His hobbies are bike riding and computer gaming. He also enjoys skiing and windsurfing and he is about to take his violin grade 6, WOW!

Thanks to:

Daniel Lacalle, our very own Rock and Roll expert, who has been in charge of our "Do you know...?" section this week.

Check out our Facebook page, La biblioteca de Miss McHaggis, this week will be dedicated to Rock and Roll!!

Thursday, 20 March 2014



Frank Cottrell Boyce

Recommended age: as from 9 years old

This is a book we highly recommend. Funny, surprising, amusing, beautifully written and very moving. It is the perfect book to read with your Dad...(ask him, he´ll thank me afterwards!)

I must say the more I read it the more I liked it. To tell the truth, the story and the main character are so different from anything we had ever read, that it took me a few chapters to really understand Liam and to fully enjoy this peculiar adventure.

Jaime L.C. (11 years old): "Liam is a twelve year old boy, too tall for his age, who wins a contest. He takes his friend Florida, faking to be his father, to enjoy the prize (the greatest ride on Earth). But what he doesn´t know is that soon he will be on a ride that will fly him to space, as the ride is a rocket! Due to an unfortunate accident he is stuck in the rocket with the other winners, lost in space."

Trust us, once you get to know this gifted and talented boy, whom everyone takes for an adult (as he is very tall and even has facial hair), he will take you on the most unforgettable voyage, a "children only" adventure to the Moon.

You will also meet the rest of the crew: Florida, a girl full of surprises, Hasan, Samson Two and Max. And with them you´ll realize that going to the Moon is Cosmic, but enjoying your childhood is even more. So do as Liam says and Make the World your Thrill Ride! 

Daniel L.C. (11 years old): "This book really makes you wonder about the secrets of our planet (and for you aliens reading this blog, this might include your world too) and how dangerous it can be in space. I learned that being an astronaut can be more dangerous than being in the army, but if you still want to go to space, I can assure you that you will have an image to think of for the rest of your life." 

Click here to see some stunning images of Earth, taken by the crew of the the International Space Station.

(Mr Bean, the astronaut): "Up there is some kind of lovely. And maybe you need to have something in your heart, you know, something even more lovely. To help you find your way home. Otherwise maybe you could be beguiled."

Pablo L.C. (11 years old): "This book is witty, funny and packed with interesting facts. So join Liam Digby as he tells the biggest fib ever and accidentally gets lost in space. And a message to all Dads: never, ever, ever let your child even 2 meters out of the house or next thing you know they´d have won a scholarship to Hogwarts and discovered Middle Earth :)"

In this book scientific facts go hand in hand with the craziest situations imaginable and also with a very poetic view of our lives.

"It´s Dad. He´s walking towards me like there´s some special gravity pulling him towards me. And maybe there is. Maybe everyone´s got their own special gravity that lets you go far away, really far away sometimes, but which always brings you back in the end."

As I read it, I couldn´t help thinking of another of our favorite books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, because of the children selected to live a unique experience, and of the James Bond movie Moonraker,  there is even a Dr Drax in both!

Did you know...?

It was Isaac Newton, the English scientist, who formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation. The story says he was lying under a tree when an apple fell on this head, which made him ask himself a very simple question, why did it fall downwards? 

Astronauts need to prepare themselves to take some "extra gravity force" when re-entering the Earth´s atmosphere, they do so with a machine called a Centrifuge, in our book it is called Vortex, as it makes people vomit. Click here to see a video of a real astronaut, Chris Hadfield, explain how it works.

For another version of this machine at full power, click here. Of course it is only James, James Bond, who can take more than 15g without undoing his hair. Watch the film if you have a chance, the cero-gravity fight and the laser battle are priceless!!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Percy Jackson Series

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Rick Riordan

Recommended age: as from 9 years old

Would you believe us if we assured you that Greek gods are not something from ancient history? What about finding out that your real father is one of them? Poseidon, God of the seas. This is what Percy, a teenager with a hard life both at home and at school, is about to find out. To make his life even more complicated he is then falsely accused of stealing the lighting bolt of Zeus, the most powerful and revengeful god of the Olympus.

Percy will have to train hard at Camp Half-Blood to become a worthy opponent to all sort of mythological creatures with supernatural powers in his quest to find the real thief, and thus, prevent an apocalyptic war between Zeus, Hades and his own father Poseidon.

Daniel L.C. (11 years old): "You are going to love this series of books if you like war and stories with a lot of fighting (in the last book of the series more than half of it is a huge war!!). They are one of my favorite series, once I started reading them I couldn't put them down. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!"

If you enjoy mythology you are in for a treat. Furies, Minotaur, centaurs, satyrs... are only a few of the creatures that you will come across in this adventure that will have you breathless from the very first page. Beware of Medusa, get ready for a 'pleasure' trip to the Underworld or even a meeting at the Olympus... Not the type of errands your mum would send you to run on a Saturday morning!

Pablo L.C. (11 years old): "These books are awesome, action packed and very funny. The best thing is you learn about Greek mythology even better than at school. Full of amazing characters and heroes that are not quite what you would expect them to be. Mythology was never so entertaining!"

If you are a comic lover maybe the graphic novel will interest you:

This is the film of the first book of this series. Click here to watch the official trailer.

We have just watched (Sept 03) the last movie of this series of books: Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters. Click here to see the official trailer.

Jaime L.C. (11 years old):  "A very good film, about an hour and a half long. It is about a tree that protects the semi-gods. To prevent it from death, Percy and his friends will have to find the Golden Fleece which will bring life back to the tree,  and they´ll face monsters and other dangers".

Daniel L.C. (11 years old)"We also watched this film. We really enjoyed it and I recommend it. However, I must say the book is way better, more action and more detail when describing the adventures. So, even if you go to the cinema to watch the film, don´t forget to read the book!"

Related activities.

Click here to enter Percy Jackson´s web page. You will be updated with all sort of news about this amazing series, plus there are other activities and games.

Did you know...?

It is in Greek mythology that you will find Medusa, a monstrous creature that had the power of to turn people who dared looked at her into stone. King Polydectes sent Perseus the hero to kill her. He finally managed to cut her head off because he used the mirror shield that Athena had given him. Instead of looking directly to Medusa, he looked at her reflection in the shield. Then Perseus kept her head and used it as a weapon!

Check out our Facebook page, La biblioteca de Miss McHaggisThis week it is dedicated to Greek Mythology.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Fantastic Mr Fox

Fantastic Mr Fox
Roald Dahl

Recommended age: as from 6 years old.

Mr Fox lives on a hill in the wood, with Mrs Fox and their four Small Foxes. Every night, Mr Fox would go to one of the surrounding farms to get his dinner.

The farmers were nasty men who went mad with rage because Mr Fox always outsmarted them. So, they would get out their guns, the shovels and the caterpillar tractors and determine themselves to kill Mr Fox, even it that means destroying the hill in the wood with all its other animals.

"All three of them were about as nasty and mean as any men you could meet" 

"Boggis and Bunce and Bean
One fat, one short, one lean.
These horrible crooks
So different in  looks
Where none the less equally mean". 

Gonzalo Munné (8 years old): "I have just finished Fantastic Mr Fox and I have enjoyed it very much. It was very funny because the fox stole the food from the farmers and lived off them."

But, as we have just said, Mr Fox is too smart for them...Yes, do not despair, although Mr Fox and family are surrounded by 108 men with sticks and guns, Mr Fox has a plan... However, he will need the help of his four little foxes to carry it out, and he is sure to get it because they are brave and resilient little ones!

"What fine children I have, he thought. They are starving to death and they haven´t had a drink for three days, but they are still undefeated."

Daniel L.C. (11 years old): "This book is a very good book as the plot first of all is very interesting and gives good grounds for debate as to say "is it good to steal if you are hungry, or not?". The family of Mr Fox is also very interesting because the four little children are so brave and desperate for food and surviving that they are willing to dig, even though they are starving just to save themselves and the familly from death of hunger."

Mr Fox is very generous and he will also provide for Badger, Mole, Rabbit and Weasel and their wives and children.

'We shall simply take a little food here and there to keep us and our families alive. Right?'
'I suppose we´ll have to', said Badger.
'If they want to be horrible, let them', said Mr Fox. 'We down here are decent peace-loving people.'

Jaime L.C. (11 years old): "This book is pretty good for little kids, it is quite interesting because the plot is about people being hunted down, but Roald Dahl makes it less scary by using irony.
Just by reading the first few pages, you compare it to Robin Hood, except for Robin has a whole team of born rougs on his side but the guy on the picture above only has a bunch of starving, talking animals on his side."

Pablo L.C (11 years old):   "Fantastic Mr Fox is a witty and highly entertaining book. It differs from your usual namby-pamby Damsel in Distress, Brave Prince drivel, as the character is actually facing a huge and extremely dangerous problem, as he is starving and there are men with shotguns waiting for him outside. A truly wonderful novel, written in a FANTASTIC style."

Related activities:

This is the movie based on the book, the plot is quite different. We would recommend it for children over 8 years old as the little ones might find it a bit long, although it is a brilliant film:

Click here to watch the official trailer to this very cool and obviously fantastic movie, something of a Mission Impossible fox style!

Did you know...?

This cutie could very well the son of Badger, Mr Fox´ friend. He looks as cuddly as a soft toy!

Badgers are very timid animals. They also like to come out at night, so it is quite difficult to spot one. In fact, although we know there are many badgers in our neighbourhood, we haven´t managed to see any yet, we´ll keep looking...

And these two could very well be the son of Badger and one of the Small Foxes from the story, what do you think they are up to?

Thanks to our new team member:

Gonzalo MunnĂ©,  who is 8 years old. He enjoys reading and playing with his friends. He has a 2 years old brother who sometimes no le deja hacer las cosas. 

Check out our Facebook page, La biblioteca de Miss McHaggis. This week it is dedicated to our beloved Roald Dahl.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Beast Quest

Beast Quest
Adam Blade

Recommended age: as from 6 years old.

This series of books is a sure winner for adventurous readers. If you are on a quest for action packed stories, huge monsters, evil sorcerers and heroes, then search no more.

Rodrigo V.P. (7 years old)"I am reading the Beast Quest collection, it´s so cool! In the first book, Ferno, a boy called Tom fights against mysterious monsters to protect the Kingdom of Avantia. In order to do so, he needs to get some magic powers from the monsters. My favourite part is when he confronted a man-horse, what a fight! I am interested in these books because they are very interesting and I feel curious to read on. They are a bit scary but you won´t get nightmares. And you get a card for a collection with each book. I encourage all children to read them!!"

Pablo L.C. (11 years old): "This is a great series of books, action packed, and with magic and different characters in each story, like Silver, a wolf who is more of a puppy... As you read into the serie you´ll find that the books are more scary, and more evil and good guys join in, for example an even more evil sorcerer and a mysterious warrior woman".

Jaime L.C. (11 years old)"This series of mythic adventures is very cool. The main characters are two friends, Elena and Tom. I would recommend them to young readers who are into fights with weapons such as swords and bows and arrows".

These books are quite short, they have a large print and some illustrations, all of which makes the reading very easy. But they also come with a warning: they are addictive!! Luckly there are more than 60 titles in the collection...would that be enough for the winter?

Daniel L.C. (11 years old): "I read the whole series of Beast Quest when I was younger. In fact, it was my favourite series, and the best part is that there is always a new title waiting for you, so you can read them until you get exhausted!"

An idea for the younger readers

Even if you already read by yourself, it is sometimes fun to start a book with your mum, or dad, or older sibling. That will also give you the chance discuss the story, which makes it much more interesting. They could start off the book by reading the first chapters, or even, you could take turns to read aloud. With their help you will finish the book in the blink of an eye!

Related activities.

Click here to join the  Beast Quest club, you´ll find all the information about the books and games!

Did you know...?

Adam Blade, the very young author of Beast Quest was born in Kent, as was Miss McHaggis. This county is South of London and its countyside is so beautiful that it is known as "The garden of England".

Thanks to our new team member:

Rodrigo V.P. who is 7 years old and lives in Madrid with his younger brother. His hobbies are skiing and reading fantasy books.

Check out our Facebook page, La biblioteca de Miss McHaggis