Published by Bloomsbury

I used to think that Cadbury’s was everything, particularly if kept in the fridge. My sister liked Galaxy, which I found too soft to the taste. Then I found out about Green and Black and realised that I didn’t really like milky chocolate – I like something between milk, and dark. I began to frequent places like Hotel Chocolat (http://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk) & found that I like good chocolate.

72% Dark Madagascar 70g, 70G, hi-resI visited Madagascar almost two years ago, (to find out about the wildlife), and on my return started to look out for Madagascan chocolate. Hotel Chocolat  sell it in slim bars…and Waitrose sell small boxes produced by a chap (he must be a very good chap, called Willie).

Amongst other Willie's Cacao Madagascan gold 71things Madagascan chocolate really does taste of berries and I was hooked.

Dragons on the other hand have always been important – Smaug I suppose was my first, but I like their characters – they always struck me as strong – determined and a little temperamental, if not down right difficult and I can’t say that I’m a particularly easy person to get on with. So, I have often felt I had an affinity with them. Particularly if something is unfair, or not right.

This book starts with a dragon remembering the advice of her grandfather, that it is safer not to talk to your food. Which struck me as very good advice.

The story  lead me on; there are dragons,  though up to page 184 actually not many, but there is adventure with the flavour of dragons. I haven’t finished it yet – but I can confirm, the dragons are coming! I loved too the idea of chocolate shops taking on apprentices to train to make the perfect hot chocolate, it seemed wonderful (and obvious), and to become a chocolatier, a glorious pinnacle to achieve – and this story mixes the magic of dragons and fantasy with the magic (it can really only be magic) of chocolate.

What more could you want? Actually this book should be sold by all good chocolatiers, and the book should have, perhaps, a small box of Willie’s squares, or one of the slim Hotel Chocolat bookmark sized bars,  attached to each volume…just to prove that sometimes fiction can be reflected in real life.

Go out and buy the book – its a paperback at £6.99, the chocolate costs around £3 for Willie’s squares or £7.50 for Hotel Chocolat’s creation – find a comfortable seat, somewhere quiet, and settle down to read, whilst nibbling on some lovely good chocolate!

Or, perhaps better still,  purchase some of Hotel Chocolat’s Chilli Hot Chocolate (£9 a box), and snuggle down with a warm blanket and this very good book.

 

Published by Faber & Faber.

I shall never think of mackerel in the same way again.

This is a beautiful book, unlike any I have read before. Billy’s ‘thing’ is Natural History, the strange and peculiar; the interesting facts about animals that make the subject so fascinating. His hero, is also one of mine – Sir David Attenborough, who makes regular visits to Billy in his daydreams, as his mind wanders away from life when he doesn’t want to deal with the more challenging things that it periodically throws at us all. He watches all David’s programmes, and he knows that he has all the answers to everything – to all the questions, he just has to listen and he will answer.

Billy is different, not the usual boy. Being different isn’t good, at least that is what Billy has found. His class find him strange and as Billy knows that isn’t always good in the animal kingdom.

Then a new boy arrives at school, another boy who is interested in Natural History. He though is different from Billy; he can’t swim, and Billy can. Patrick though, can do other things…and is willing to wait for his friend, when many others wouldn’t.

The imaginative text – which is so peculiar to the book is reflected in the use of typeface  – which along with the illustrations makes this very unique.

It is a beautifully illustrated volume – the book has superb free and paste-down endpapers and a lovely dust jacket with fish swimming on them – and one in particular, a mackerel facing Fish Boy on the front. It is handsomely designed and the pictures really contribute to making this a very special book – they make it more of a gift and rather special.

It has been published in hardback, but it would have been a disservice to both the story, design and illustrations if it hadn’t been. It costs a little more, but you receive more than you pay when you purchase such a volume.

Buy it.

Image: Anne Cecile

Image result for jungle book ian beck

Published by Alma Classics

The Jungle Books shouldn’t need an introduction.

That is unless all you have done is seen the films.

If you haven’t read the books – then this really is a must read.

There are several different editions available to buy, in different bindings.

This edition though, is really something else.

It is a paperback. Of the regular octavo size.

It is printed on good quality paper. Which it has to be admitted, doesn’t always happen. There are publishers who don’t know about paper, but there are others, though that do and they are available to buy.

This edition though, is the only one with chapter headings with superb illustrations by Ian Beck.

In the spring they are also publishing The Just So Stories.

I have placed my order for this already.

If you already have a copies of these books. Or there are copies ‘in the house’ – so you ‘don’t need another’, please don’t miss the opportunity of purchasing this edition. Perhaps younger members of the family would appreciate owning their own copies.

The Jungle Books really is something very special. Remember to order the Just So Stories at the same time.

The ISBNs for the books are:

The Jungle Book / Kipling: 978 1847495839

The Just So Stories / Kipling: 978 1847496379

Ian Beck has illustrated many other books, including his Tom Trueheart series….also suitable for 8 and onwards…and really rather wonderful.

Buy them!

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books.  I thought I would start this post with a quote from the book.

‘I’ve got a time-out card.’ I say this almost under my breath, turning away so that the only people who can hear me are the teacher and Tabassum. It’s not a state secret, but my parents seem to think life will be easier if my Asperger’s is on the need-to-know basis. I’m not sure it works, but nobody bothered to ask me….

I knew this would happen when Miss Young laminated this time-out card. Half the teachers are terrified in case I start climbing on the tables or setting fire to the desks….’

Grace’s father travels… He works on television, producing natural history programmes. Often he is away for months. Grace’s mother on the other hand is making sure that everything runs properly at home & that the ‘situation’ that is Grace, is being taken seriously. Leah her younger sister observes all this with a wry look on life that made me laugh as I read this wonderful tale of a family being a family – with all the challenges that brings and a few extra on top.

It is superb.

The illustration above is one of Edward Gorey’s pictures – I am a fan of his work (see the Gashlycrumb Tinies post) – and since there isn’t a reasonable picture of the proof, let alone the cover to be used for this book – I thought I would use this…as a sort of stand in for an image.

The proof states that The State of Grace is due to be published on the 6th of April 2017

 

 

Published by Walker Books.

This post was started as a review of Truth or Dare. Then I remembered Trouble, also by Non Pratt and expected to find an earlier post about that brilliant volume. For some reason, that I don’t know, it never got on to the site. So it has a mention at the end – as these are both books to sink into…

I have never ‘played’ Truth or Dare. Not even when the Internet didn’t exist. I sometimes wonder at the repercussions for those who now become involved in these challenges, particularly now that they can be viewed by everyone who has access to social media. I suppose I didn’t like the idea of where such encounters might lead. Would I have spoken the truth, would I have done something dangerous, just to be part of a group? I don’t know – I avoided the issue.

This is book is about two brothers, a dare that went right, and dares that perhaps didn’t end in the way the participants expected. It is a tale with a heart. It covers the phenomenon of social media dares – Internet sites that, to quote one, states: ‘…a social media where users upload video proof to earn street-cred.’ Which isn’t something I have ever worried about. In this book the dares, are on the whole, performed for another result entirely. Well, most of the time…

The book comes in two parts. Claire’s and then Sef’s story; you read hers and then (with my proof) turn the book over to read Sef’s. Claire’s starts in September. Sef’s in August; the story ends in the following February.

It is the story of bravery – and not just as a result of the dares. Friendship and of course trust. It is also about facing the truth, however hard. It is also about how small things can change lives irrevocably. It is also the story that begins, in a way with a small bat.

A bat. Flying mammal. As in blind as a…

This is an enticing book – one that will get under your skin. It is a rollercoaster of a ride with death just a page turn away…

Do you dare to read it?

Non Pratt also wrote Trouble which came out some time ago – a book about teenage pregnancy which was enticing, and extraordinary. Sadly I either hadn’t set up my blog then, or I just didn’t get around to reviewing it, which would be strange, as I became totally involved with the book.

So, buy the two as a pair – they make good siblings and are brilliant reads.

I have removed the pictures from this post – as they have reverted to the Walker Books logo – not much help when searching for them. I have replaced it with this rather nice Edward Gorey illustration. I think its rather fun…

Published by Scholastic

This is a charming, unique fairy tale. Alberto lives in a village,  where flying fish soar out of the sea, and the houses are brightly coloured. The only fisherman in the area is laughed at, after all what use is a fisherman, when fish regularly fall from the sky? Alberto though is a carpenter and spends his time making toys for his three children and household furniture to sell. It is a happy house, until things change, as they do in fairy tales and a sickness arrives at the bottom of the hill.

This is a small volume. The proof is printed in blue, with small illustrations that decorate each page. It is to be published in paperback, and I hope that Scholastic will make sure that the production reflects the appeal of the story.

The above illustration depicts the cover of the proof – which as those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know, quite often doesn’t reflect the end result – but it might give a little indication of how the book might look once it has been published. Which my proof states will be in May. Though often that too changes. Keep an eye out for this one though – a story of the traditional variety…

Image result for jamie drake equation

Published by Nosy Crow March 2017

Many years ago my mum encouraged me to write to Neil Armstrong, (I was extremely young), which resulted in my receiving a letter from NASA explaining that though he was always pleased to hear of young people interested in the space program, he was sadly too busy dealing with his heavy schedule of activities to reply personally. They did, however include a signed photograph. The letter and the photograph are framed and are up on my office wall.

I have always believed you should write to people who’s work you have admired and have as a result of this early encouragement written to all sorts of people at different times of my life. I keep meaning to get in contact with Tim Peake – but haven’t got around to it yet… I feel that from him, I should get a proper letter, if only to make up for not having had one from Neil Armstrong, but I suspect that is wishful thinking.

Jamie Drake’s father is an astronaut and has recently left earth to stay on the International Space Station preparatory to sending small probes out into the dark, in the hope that as a result, aliens might respond with some sort of message in the future.

Jamie’s school has become very involved with the idea, and the different classes are following Jamie’s dad day by day. They have been making models, writing stories, talking about it in class and generally becoming very captivated by it all. Which is all very exciting for them and Jamie too. Though he is not so much excited, as vaguely worried. Space isn’t exactly safe, he knows this. Space walking isn’t exactly a walk in a park; he’d much rather have his dad down here on earth to help him build his models.

So, what is this book about? Image result for fibonacci spiral

Aliens – perhaps, (I’m not going to tell you whether any aliens get around to replying to the probes).

Space.

Families

and a thing called the Fibonacci sequence and spiral.

It is a funny, brilliant story, with a twist.

Nosy Crow’s proof of this is their usual yellow backed job – with a picture on it that might be the one they use to illustrate the cover of the book. The picture above is the same one – so it might be the one they use. It may not.

The Fibonacci sequence picture was, I’m afraid, nicked from the Internet – from Sciencevibe.com – with thanks and apologies. I hope they don’t mind….its is also found in shells too, not just in space and in many other areas too…it is a piece of mathematical/natural history wonder.

 

 

 

I have been asked to review my last post about this small volume by a customer who has direct experience of the subject; her son, born a daughter. He expressed his belief from a very early age and so, I have made a note that it should be within the 9 – 12 age group.

The use of the correct pronoun for suffers is important – and within this story, though initially confusing for those of us who haven’t come across sexual dysphoria directly, is right and proper – and not just a device.

This is an important volume – it is not a subject that is covered in fiction for children, it is a unique children’s book in my experience. As such may be of help to those who are affected by this.

Having looked on the NHS site dealing with sexual dysphoria, they suggest that anyone who has, or has a child who may be showing signs that they have it, that they should contact their GP who may well refer them on to a specialist Gender Identity Clinic.

 

I have been selling books for over 20 years with Waterstones. They say I have become an ‘Expert’ in Children’s books. A title that really means very little to me.

What does, I have recently realised, are my customers and more importantly my younger customers, especially those that I influenced enough for them to begin to enjoy books.

It is what they say and do that matters.

The following, in no order what so ever, stand out for me when I look back over the last two decades. This is not in any way a comprehensive list – just some of the highlights that I have so enjoyed over the years.

Thank you.

The author and teacher who introduced me with such pride to his husband.

The bright enthusiastic girl who so loved her reserved books on Vikings, & gave me a cuddle.

The boy who lost his Lego mini-figure and was so overcome when I ‘felt’ the packets and found a new one; wrapping his arms around my neck, his legs, around my waist.

The girl whose father claimed she ‘would never finish anything’, and wouldn’t buy her the kit; who fired her finished Leonardo da Vinci catapult down the store a week or so later.

My regulars who return asking for more books for their children, who seem to have suddenly begun to have the reading bug.

‘My’ Russian customer, his wide grin, and unpronounceable name.

The American who wanted to take home the next unpublished Harry Potter in his suitcase. ‘You have some hidden in the back.’

The mother who came to say she had seen the film, A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness) after reading my post, and was so moved by it.

My Dorset customer, passionate about all things Persian, who bought around a thousand pounds worth of books from me, almost on a monthly basis, who has now become a friend.

The owls I arranged to visit Harrods at the penultimate Harry Potter event.

The queen,

yes the queen,

who bought a copy of the

picture book Tadpole’s Promise for her husband.

The Sussex House event with Linda Davies, and her longbow; celebrating Longbow Girl.

Sgt. from Sussex House, quiet, kindly, wonderful, but with such authority.

Selling almost 1,000 pounds of The Undrowned Child (Michelle Lovric) in Harrods.

The man who bought a copy of The Undrowned Child even though he only wanted a book on accounting.

The man who bought another copy, when he had just come in to buy an English version of the Koran.

The Sussex boy, ‘Hop-a-long’ who came to an event in a shopping trolley.

The small boy who came to say he had broken a plastic stand.

The father who apologised for his ‘feral children’.

The teachers who have become such good friends.

The elderly couple who bought their Christmas books for their family every year in Harrods – the list of their relatives, ages and details neatly inscribed on the cardboard taken from a cereal packet.

The Sussex House boys.

The lady who insisted on double bagging her books, and wanted copies ‘not touched’ by human hands, and has now become a rather extraordinary friend.

The various children who have returned to tell me how much they have enjoyed the last book I sold them.

The Sussex boys from Sussex House and how they have welcomed me into their school.

The boy with autism, who made friends with me.

The customers who ‘followed’ me from Harrods to Finchley Road O2 . Every winter one elderly couple travelling to the store; a very different environment for them. Just because I happened to work there now.

The Sussex events in store, a high light, initially a very reserved author Lynn Reid Banks and her phenomenal rendition of The Green Eye of the Yellow God by Milton Hayes.

The hopeful father who came to buy a book for his child, aged 7, but didn’t know what he was interested in. Only to admit after we had gone through several titles, that the boy was just seven weeks old.

Being taken to see the play Private Peaceful with Sussex House.

The little girl with downs syndrome who suddenly left her carer and came and stroked my arm.

The Sussex House boys’ response to an event with bottles of smells to inhale – a truly raucous event.

Maya Leonard celebrating Beetle Boy with an event in store and her brilliant Ballroom Event with Sussex House.

The man who came and bought all the Biggles books we had in stock – just because I admitted that perhaps they weren’t particularly politically correct and why.

The customers who have asked for a suggestion for one or two books, who have left with a pile tucked under their arms and bags in their hands and grins upon their faces with excited children ‘at foot’.

Lastly, the mother who came to thank me and tell me of her dyslexic son, who after advice from me, started with Barrington Stoke and was introduced to good stories.

Who recently returned home to talk to his mother about the book he was reading.

She was so pleased.

‘…his lower lip was quivering…he could hardly get his words out,’

she said,

‘…he was so involved in the book…’

to find he was reading The Northern Lights (Philip Pullman).

It is the people that have made this job a joy – who have made me grin, laugh and become involved. The books are another joy, but that is perhaps for another time.

This time is to say thank you – I wouldn’t be doing this job if it weren’t for you making that connection.

Thank you.

 

Published by Scholastic

Due out in March 2017

This is Sylvia Bishop’s second book. I enjoyed her first, Erica’s Elephant when it came out, and  wrote a post about it. I have been selling it to all discerning young readers ever since. This, though, I loved. The Jones family, Netty, Michael and Property own the White Stag – a bookshop sited in an old pub.

They are happy enough, though financially things are not quite what they should be.

This is the story of what happens when all that changes, it seems for the better.

Property is our heroine, but she is certainly supported by other the other brilliant characters, including my favourite Gunther, a cat who has decided opinions about things and expresses himself very clearly – very much in the way my Pakka does.

It is a book about book forgeries. Its about dishonesty and it is about integrity too. I read this yesterday – and was amused by this element of the story. In the last year or so a real forgery has been discovered. A fake copy of a book by Galileo – about the moon and astronomy – Sidereus Nuncius (the English translation from the Latin, ‘Sidereal Messenger’). Dad and I saw the original book whilst we were in Italy in September  – so I enjoyed the connection with this – and the fact that it is a very small mistake the forgers made in both this fictional forgery and the real one, that meant they were found out.

The Montgomery Book Emporium is like no other shop I have ever heard of  – and I am certain I would enjoy working there – should one exist. It is a vast series of shops within one – each opening into a central ‘Front of Shop’ area. I think I would enjoy selling to the customers there, perhaps more than those at Watersones – if only because I would enjoy just moving around the shelves…Perhaps though, if I moved, ‘my’ customers would follow me to The MBE – then it would be even more special…

This is a book for book lovers, book SHOP loves and of course, cat lovers everywhere.

It is wonderful!

I couldn’t find a picture of the cover – so have cheated a bit – the above picture I thought was a suitable one – gleaned from the Internet…I thought he/she was rather beautiful. All bookshops should have their own cat…