The Orphans of St Halibut's: 9781529013375: Books

Macmillan Children’s Books

Not yet published – 2020, October 1st.

I haven’t got very far with this – but what I have read so far is so good this has to be reviewed now! A proof arrived! Yes, a proof! A sign of books and book life outside Waterstones at Finchley Road O2 trying to make its way into our consciousness – Marvellous news and WHAT a proof it is turning out to be…I almost don’t want to stop to write about it…

A tale of orphans – though I suppose that is obvious, but what characters these are…in a world where questioning minds are frowned upon – to the extent that to think for yourself could cause an orphan to be moved to The Mending House

The Department for Education, Assimilation, Training and Health (DEATH) was set up by the government to ensure a peaceful population and an end to all wars…which sounds perfect…perhaps. It is known that there are two causes of all arguments: having an opinion and having too much time on your hands and DEATH was set up to prevent these situations from happening.

When there is an terminal accident at St Halibut’s Home for Waifs and Strays, the pupils take steps to allow themselves that little bit of freedom that had been missing from their lives. The Happy Accident, resulted in a secret funeral in the grounds – and the children chose a suitable hymn to be sung at the graveside. Originally, it probably wasn’t meant to be sung with such joy.

All seems well until the orphans receive notification that DEATH is due to visit to ensure they are being educated and prevented from asking questions and are of course, being kept suitably occupied…

I am loving this – it’s absolutely glorious. Just what is needed by everyone – if and I hope we will soon, we are able to have events with authors again – I do so hope that Sophie Wills and David Tazzyman will be happy to come to Waterstones at Finchley Road O2 – when it is published in October… It’s superb!

There are (weirdly) some parts of this book that are reflected in our world of today…which is a little disturbing…

‘Sometimes, however, science said things that were inconvenient, and when this happened, better facts were designed and paid for. For example, the Prime Minister’s husband owned a company that made radioactive health products…unfortunately, top doctors had discovered that these were extremely bad for you, so those doctors were sacked, and different ones hired. The new doctors said actually, the facts proved that drinking radioactive water not only made you feel younger and put a spring in your step, but also that the strange buzzing light that you started to emit was, in fact, a healthy glow…’

Go into your local Waterstones / Independent and order a copy as soon as you can. It will be out in October and will be something stupendous to look forward to…

Faber Children's Catalogue Highlights 9-11 Years by Faber - issuu

I remember the Paris catacombs. I stayed with my sister when she was a nanny for a French family – years ago. She wanted to visit the catacombs when we took a trip to Paris and said that if I didn’t like it, we could always back out – and not go around. We didn’t know they had a one-way turn-style…

This is a book with a mystery. Actually, several mysteries all tied in one glorious knot. Nell (Penelope) was looked after by Pear until she was seven, since then she has kept in contact by letter. Only to have these suddenly stop. Her Mum and Dad agree she can come with them on a business trip, as long as she doesn’t cause them any trouble…

They aren’t really interested in her at all. Her Dad is always busy and her Mum – she is more interest in the new handbag she has recently purchased. When Nell slips away to try to track down her friend – she is told that she has been evicted from her home and when she tracks down where she works, they deny all knowledge of her.

What is the truth? Where is she? Is she the thief that Nell is asked to believe? What does the red haired girl know? What is going on beneath Paris? What is causing the bloom of mould that is forming on the bread in all the bakeries? Is there a connection?

With lovely chapter heading illustrations by Kim Geyer…

The Nowhere Emporium wins Blue Peter Best Story Award and Scottish ...

Kelpies / Floris Books

This is one of those wonderfully detailed and well thought out books with an intricate and clever plot. A suitably dark opponent with twists to the tale that keep you reading and wanting to know quite why things happened. Then when you have found that out – you wonder about how our hero and heroine are going to survive… A tale of magic, but a tale of stories too – of imagination. A stupendous book.

I try, on the whole to read the first in a series and then to move on – else I wouldn’t have the range of authors and their books to promote – but I am sorely tempted with this one to buy the next volume, The Elsewhere Emporium, but really shouldn’t. Frankly I wish I’d read this one years ago. It was published in 2015. Mackenzie also wrote Shadowsmith.

Chicken House Books - New reads: March 2020

Chicken House

Zoe is growing up surrounded by the love of her grandmother, mother and step dad. She’s into cooking, particularly anything with chocolate and she’s also interested in  music. Recently she has decided her best friend Trevor, is not someone she wants to hang around with any more. Not that anyone else seems to understand this.

She’s turning 12 – her other friends aren’t going to be around for the summer holidays and she is just getting used to the idea that this holiday will be different from all the others (as she’s not talking to Trevor), when she receives a letter from her father, presently incarcerated in Massachusetts State Penitentiary. He sounds nice. She has never received a letter from him before, but he mentions other letters he’s sent. He’s into music too – and she begins to write to him regularly…

Set in America with American references. The story of a young girl desperate to find out the truth, whatever that might be and hoping that just perhaps Marcus, her biological father, might just be innocent…

Chicken House Books - House on Hoarder Hill

Chicken House.

‘Simon rolled his eyes skywards and muttered, ‘O, the ignominy of death.’

Hedy and Spencer are left with their grandfather, when their parents leave to go on yet another archaeological dig. To stay with their grandfather whom they have never met. Who lives in a strange … not to say spooky house on a hill. He used to be a magician (of the usual every day variety), now he is retired, the house is filled with artefacts – magical and strange – that Hedy and Spencer have to promise to positively never touch.

His behaviour though is a little odd – and then there’s the question of what happened to their grandmother…and the marks on the floor…that seem to be moving…the peculiar messages…the pleas for help…Simon, the ghost and the head of a stag and the rug made from the pelt of a bear…that have the ability to talk, if not to argue…

A book to disappear into – brilliant!




Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans | Waterstones

David Fickling Books

A story of magic. Not the ‘Whizzz-bang’ kind, more the conjuring and mystery sort. A story of families – of an uncle of the best sort. Everyone should have at least one uncle that is better, more interesting than the rest. I did…

Stuart is small, especially when compared to his parents. They are intelligent, though they have little common sense, in the general way of things. When his mother is offered a new job, his father proposes that it might be an idea if the whole family were to move with her.  A proposal that Stuart objects to. Not that that matters.

This is a brilliant tale – with a family mystery, a disappearing relative, a fire, an empty box and an inheritance that isn’t quite what it seems…and of course there’s that question of magic…

Stupendous. An author to watch, without a doubt!



Little Liar by Julia Gray | Waterstones

Andersen Press

Written in the first person this is the story of Nora Tobias – who has, as she admits, told a ‘number of lies’…some are, as she says small – others are more significant. It is by way of a confession – an explanation of what happened. Why she told the lies she did and how the results were – as she says – significant. It is a story of friendship. Bravery and courage. It is also a tale of how things can grow from something, relatively small, into something else entirely.

I really ought to read more YA – I always enjoy (or nearly always – one does spring to mind) – and this is one of those that you won’t want to put down…


Waterstones opened again yesterday – do visit…

Two cousins get lost in the Land of the Wimbley Woos in Wed Wabbit ...

David Fickling Books

I really should have read this one years ago.

This takes the idea of toys being more than just imaginary friends, just that step further. It’s a book about talents and abilities. It is also a book of jealousy and things just getting out of hand. A tale of bravery too – of so many sorts. It’s a very different adventure…and it is also about the need for understanding and dare I say it, just at the moment…its a book about the fact that everyone needs a hug or two…

I would like to say it’s brilliant. Then again, you know it is – I don’t review books that aren’t ‘up there’ – another one for you to buy when you visit Waterstones stores…


Simon & Schuster

The Vanishing Trick: Spangler, Jenni, Mould, Chris ...

Possibly, probably the best children’s book I read over lock-down.

Do look at the YouTube GIF – it is wonderful!

Leander, a thief from necessity makes a bargain with Madame Pinchbeck when he tries to sell his ill gotten gains to her… She, however, is not what she seems. Leander joins Charlotte and Felix in an adventure that is like no other I have read. A twisted story of theft, greed, magic, mediums and orphans…there is so much more to this than first appears. It’s brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Almost forgot – it’s illustrated by Chris Mould too – what more could you want?

Everyone should buy a copy.

Waterstones is now reopened…come and get your hands on a copy.

Stay safe –



Walker Books

A book for those game players out there – an adventure in different realms testing Arthur, Ren and Cecily’s nerve, brains and logic in a series of adventures along with a small dog – who isn’t quite what he seems. A book encompassing everything from computer generated characters, historical figures and mystery.

It is June’s Waterstone’s Book of the Month – and since we have been open since yesterday – available for everyone to purchase and enjoy.

I am sorry not to have written any posts since ‘lock-down’ – but I hope to get more up very, very soon.


Go safely & keep well.