Archives for the month of: September, 2015

Published by Pushkin Children’s Books

This slim charming volume of just 62 pages is a wonderfully illustrated story of Noah’s ark – with a difference. Three penguins are arguing in the snow and ice. After all there is not much to do in a landscape just made up of snow and ice.

Thus starts one of the most amusing and thought-provoking books that I have read in a very, very long time. Liberally illustrated by Jorg Muhle, and translated from the German.

As the flap in the front so beautifully describes:

Meet the Ark at Eight! is  a delight: the funny, odd and strangely moral story of three penguins, a plump, overworked dove, a beautiful butterfly that may, or may not get done in, and a quite apologetic God.

To me and being slightly sacrilegious – this is how the bible should be…at least this is the tale of the ark as it should be told.

I never thought about the dove in that way, but will do so for ever more.

It really is a book that should be tucked into all parcels for Christmas      (it does have snow, ice and penguins) – or at least shared by everyone as they sit around a fire…

It took me just an hour to read one of our copies at work. We had three. We now have only one in stock.

Published by Vintage Children’s Books

I was talking to a young lady today about this book and how wonderful it is.

I also told her that if I attempted to tell her what happens at the end, I would cry.

I always cry. Whether relating the end of the story, reading the end of the story, or watching it. So much so my colleagues have become used to it.

Do not let this put you off searching for a copy and buying it.

It is a wonderful story of two dogs and a cat who travel across Canada to make their way home to their owners; their loyalty to their family and to each other is probably what makes this such a classic – published in 1961 and still in print. Those are the books that are worth buying.

I think it was Disney who turned it into a film. There was also an American film called Homeward Bound – which is also based on the story.  Please buy the paperback before you see it – if it is still available on DVD or whatever. Your imagination will make the story personal – the film is someone else’s idea of what it was like for them to read it. Not the same thing at all.

The mother of the young lady asked whether I would review the book for her on my blog – and so this post really is for her and anyone else who hasn’t come across the story. I have just searched the web and found some YouTube film which I suppose predictably, has made me cry…again.

All is well though – Pakka has just leapt onto my desk and is making a fuss of me – I now have a keyboard with fur between the keys….

Published by Anderson Press

This is a blast of a book – a rollicking fun-filled, super hero adventure.

It really was great fun to read. Similar to My Brother is a Super Hero by David Solomons, though instead of two brothers this is a story of two friends.

A good super hero story, with a little romance, danger, fashion, homework and good friendship thrown in for good measure.

I am not sure the cover does the book as much justice, I’m afraid, as perhaps it might – but for a good blast of super hero fun – this certainly fits the bill.


Published by Walker Books

Not yet published at time of posting: 7th April 2016

Where will science take us? When does care turn into something else? Will or have we already begun to use science and genetic modification to enhance people as well as food and crops? Not just to help them become well, or to live as near a ‘normal’ life as possible, but to become more than human. Where does religion go from there? For that matter, where does religion fit now? Are those who are or will be enhanced by science ‘human’, as we know the concept, or something else?

Cillian has an understanding with numbers, and patterns. He sees them wherever he goes. The flow of people a the checkout in the supermarket, the steam clouds formed from hot chestnuts swirling into the atmosphere all draw him into the complex mathematics of daily life. Until he takes a regular train journey with his father and everything he knows is turned upside down and the beliefs he has lived by are suddenly not what he believed them to be.

Tess on the other hand has another set of beliefs and hopes. She is actively working towards a better world. At least that is what she believes.

When their two worlds collide the results have explosive repercussions.

Disturbing, modern – this book made me wonder about where we are going now. Perhaps a warning to the future, one which I am sure will be disregarded, but I hope somewhere out there someone is thinking about ‘the bigger’ picture…A lot has been written about eugenics and the history of eugenics too over the years. This goes a little further into that darkness.

Richard Kurti has written one other book – Monkey Wars, which also has a posting on this site. Both are extremely good, but very different.

Sadly Walker haven’t published the cover for Maladapted yet – the above image seemed to suit the book and is taken from the Internet.

Published by Usborne

This book is about two brothers, their father, their mother, friends, and a snail. Beckett’s father suddenly up-sticks and takes Becket and his young brother Billy away to live in a flat – leaving everything behind, including their ‘second-Mum’, Pearl.

Becket never said goodbye to his Mum when she went to hospital to have Billy and never came home with him and there is no way that he is going to leave Pearl too, without saying goodbye.

Funny and touching, this is a book really about the fact the parent’s are people too – and sometimes for the best of reasons they can get things almost astronomically wrong.

It is also about paper cranes, a rubber band bracelet and of course the snail, called Brian…an interesting character in his own right.

I sell books in Waterstone’s Finchley Road, and hope to celebrate this marvellous book with some paper crane bookmarks – which I am in the process of making. If I manage to make them – they will be given out to customers who buy the book, whilst the flock of birds I make last…one for each copy of the book sold. Also, I can’t promise that they will be anything like as good as those depicted in this picture.

If I don’t manage to make them – please accept my apologies – paper cranes are not as easy as they should be to make…

but I will persevere!

Published by Electric Monkey / Egmont

Not yet published at time of going to post: January 2016

I couldn’t put this down – I read it in 48 hours – with interruptions for work and sleep.

A human story. Samantha Reed lives with her mother and elder sister next door to ‘the Garretts‘. A large rambunctious family. Their lawn is covered with plastic toys. The plants are bought as a splash of colour and then die later as they never seem to get around to water them.  They are noisy, full of life and Samantha’s mother has declared them unsuitable from the moment she returned after delivering the traditional welcome dish.

Samantha though is fascinated by this loud, relaxed family and wishes she was one of them. She Spends many hours lying on the roof of her house watching the family. She doesn’t realise that someone though has noticed her and is startled when Jase Garrett climbs the trellis and sits beside her…

I loved this – it was one of those books that I worried about, and didn’t want to end. It even had the ‘right’ ending – I thought that it might just go wrong, but didn’t – a marvellous book. Funny (I think George is one of the best fictional four year olds ever), touching and moving.

“Is Jase already gonna marry you?”

I start coughing again. “Uh, No. No, George. I’m only seventeen.” As if that’s the only reason we’re not engaged.

“I’m this many.” George holds up four, slightly grubby fingers. “But Jase is seventeen and a half. You could. Then you could live in here with him. And have a big family.”

Jase strides back into the room, of course, midway through this proposition. “George. Beat it. Discovery Channel is on.”

George backs out of the room but not before saying, “His bed’s really comfortable. And he never pees in it.”

Teenagers are often under pressure to conform, to ‘do the right thing‘, and ‘to smile’; to behave as society, often their parents‘ society demand… This story is when all of that goes wrong and  how sometimes something more can come out of something wrong…if the people make the right decisions…

It is brilliant.

Published by Hodder and Stoughton

Not yet published at going to post: October

I once visited Ecuador where they still sell shrunken heads! Though those now sold, they said, are replicas of the originals. My friend wanted to buy one to hang like furry die from her car mirror…so she could curse other drivers… I think she decided against it in the end… The history of these is very curious. There are a large number of curious entries on Google on the subject…

I digress, a little – this is a wonderful romp of a book. Set in America, and the proof I read had many American terms, including American English language, if you understand me. I’m afraid I don’t know whether they will publish the book with ‘the Queen’s English’ for want of a better term – but the volume I read was distinctly American in flavour.

The Curiosity House is a museum, of all things curious, including the people who work within the building amongst the exhibits. When a newly purchased, notorious and highly valued shrunken is stolen, and people die the four extraordinary children who live in the museum begin to set aside their differences to try to solve the mysteries…

It was superb. It also had some lovely illustrations, that I hope will be transferred to the finished books…

Wonderful characters, and a nicely dark plot. Enjoy it!

Published by Walker Books

One of the most observant and intricate books – full of drama and adventure. Tribes of monkeys in India living side by side, some in relative comfort (living within the confines of a sacred site), others struggling to survive amongst the city and outside the walls of the graveyard. A reflection of human behaviour, using opportunities where they present themselves to overcome or take over another. Beautifully descriptive. This is war, it may be monkey wars, but for all that – you become engrossed within the tale of treachery and deceit. Frankly a stunning book that I should have reviewed when I began this blog, but that got left behind as
it was published well before I began it.

Bright yellow cover – makes it very distinctive. Out now, from all ‘Good Bookshops’ – a term I have never understood. When is a bookshop not a ‘good’ bookshop?

Published by Scholastic

Not yet published at time of going to post: October 2015

Foxes; those often solitary looking characters that sometimes trot across our paths – their lives on the edge of the world of people.

Their world cut through by roads, hunting, tragedy and death often just a whisker of a moment away.

This is the start of a gloriously detailed trilogy.
An extraordinary story from the author of The Tygrine Cat and The Tygrine Cat on the Run that was published a few years ago.

Once again Inbali sinks the reader into another world, subtly enticing us down into the story whilst developing our senses as we become entranced with another species…

Isla, a young fox cub is suddenly alone and frantically searches for her family, initially finding tantalising wafts of their scent, which disappear as they did. It is a story of adventure written by one of the most descriptive authors. Written in the first person Isla’s tale is written with colour and sensitivity and you cannot help but follow her search to try to find her family once more.

It’s a magical story by an author who isn’t given the recognition she should.

The second and third volumes are due out in October 2016 and 2017 –

Published by Puffin

Not yet published at time of going to post:

6th October 2015

This will be one of the year’s biggest publications for children’s books.

The fans of Rick Riordan’s books are passionate about them and will be looking forward to the publication of this the first of his latest series based on ancient myths. He has covered the Greek mythology extensively, along with the Egyptians and in this he deals with the Vikings and the Norse Gods.

Magnus Chase is Riordan’s new hero – an unwilling new recruit in Valhalla and is intricately entwined in the lead up to Ragnarok, the day of judgement, when Oden’s and his followers will fight against Loki at the end of the world.

Full of wonderful and eccentric characters and gods – this is the start of yet another Riordan adventure that will take this world by storm – gods, wolves, dwarves, elves (unlike any you have come across before), heroes, magic, battles, giants, viking ships, talking swords, valkyrie,

and a deadly squirrel…

It really needs no review – the fact that it is the start of another Rick Riordan series will be enough – buy it for his fans for Christmas. If they don’t insist that you buy it before.

Once more – since I read the proof, I can’t be certain of the cover that this will have when it is published. My copy has this Fenris wolf design, but without Magnus’ silhouette – and is, I think better for it, but I suspect the illustration will be that which is shown above….