James And The Amazing Gift: A Book Review

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In the Newby Tribe, we are avid readers. We have books stashed everywhere in the house and the children love to have stories read to them, so when we were asked to review James And The Amazing Gift by Nicola J. Rowley, a new children’s book, we were all really excited.


The Story
The book tells the story of a little boy named James who was born with an amazing gift; the ability to make everyone he meets smile. In the story he uses his gift to help other people feel happy and it makes him happy to do this.  Until one day he finds someone who needs his smile more than most people and he has to work out how to give his smile to them.

We all loved this story for many different reasons.  Little Miss loved it because, as a new reader, she is desperate to be able to read ‘proper’ books herself (as opposed to her phonics books).  James And The Amazing Gift is written in short sentences and paragraphs with lots of child friendly language, and, with a little help for some of the longer words, Little Miss was able to read the story to me which delighted her!

Little Sir absolutely loved the illustrations that went with the story.  They are bright and colourful and tell the story really well alongside the text.  The best thing was that Little Sir was able to pick up the book afterwards and retell the story to himself using the pictures to help – which let him feel that he was doing reading like his sister!

As for me, I loved the story.  The main message was very timely for us as a family as we have recently been trying to help Little Sir understand how being kind to others makes them feel happy.  So reading James And The Amazing Gift really helped to underline this message.  It also gave us the opportunity to talk about how sometimes some people need more kindness shown to them than others as they are feeling really sad or really lonely, and how much a little smile can help them feel better!

After we had read the story, we came up with some questions we wanted to ask the author, Nicola J. Rowley and she was kind enough to answer them for us.

Interview With The Author: Nicola J. Rowley

1. Firstly, what inspired you to write James and the Amazing Gift?

I would have to say my little boy James. I’d always intended to write a book, but up until he was born, it was going to be adult fiction. Within weeks of him being born I started to read to him, and I loved seeing how excited he became when he turned the pages and started loving the characters in the stories. It went from there…

2. Is James based on anyone or is he completely imaginary?

James is based on my son but there is also an element of imagination involved too. I think the great thing about the character of James is that he wakes happy and goes to bed happy. Throughout his day, he wants nothing more than to make everyone else around him, happy too.

3. What message would you like children in particular to take away with them from the book?

That a simple act of kindness or a smile can have a real impact on someone else and their lives. It also makes you feel good too when you see what a great reaction you get.

4. Are you planning any more books with James as the main character?

Yes. I’m currently writing the second James and the… book. I’m also hoping that a children’s literary agent / publisher will see the potential in the series. Spreading happiness and positivity is so important.

5. What is the next project you are working on?

It is the next James and the… book and I have also written two further stories and am looking to get those published too. I’d love to be known as the “happiness author”.

6. I notice that every copy sold will provide funds for Contact The Elderly. Could you tell us a bit more about this charity and why it is important to you?

I hadn’t heard of Contact the Elderly until they came to my place of work and we staged a tea party for some of the elderly people that they support. It felt like it was meant to be, and when I asked them if they would like to come on board for the book, they leapt at the chance. We’re all living longer and as an ageing population, I think that it would be good to try, where we can, to look out for each other.

7. Where are people able to purchase the book?

The book can be purchased via my publisher www.troubador.co.uk/shop but also at Waterstones, Foyles and on Amazon.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the book to review, however all opinions are my own.

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