Archives for the month of: December, 2016

Published by Simon & Schuster

This is book is a Russian doll of stories, each fitting in the other. Centred around Alice a young author who always finishes her tales. Well, always, apart from this one. This is Alice’s story, and Midge’s, her younger brother’s. When Alice disappears along with Twitch his cat, Midge is taken aback when he thinks he sees his sister, but she doesn’t acknowledge him. Then she disappears completely and a rather talkative black cat arrives. Similar in some ways to Twitch, but slightly different physically, and Twitch never spoke and certainly didn’t drink tea…

This is the first Michelle Harrison volume I have read (which is embarrassing), but she is known for her superb writing (in particular The Thirteen series) – and I’m only sorry I have only just got around to reading her.

If stories, magic, adventure, danger, mysteries and puzzles have proven good ingredients for good books before, then this is one you can’t afford to miss.

This kaleidoscope of stories is frankly fascinating and intriguing.

Enjoy it –

Published by Macmillan January 2017

I hope that Macmillan will publish this book in such a way that it looks as though it has been covered by a hoar frost. This is the story of the turning of the seasons, the power of Autumn, of frost, and the power of Spring and of nature itself. It is a remarkable and wonderful tale of trickery, death, hope and of friendship. It is the tale of spirits, of life itself. I loved this. There are some aspects that are similar to the Percy Jackson series (Rick Riordan) – however, I prefer this – a more elemental story, darker in some ways and something I can really relate to having walked my estate this morning through a hoar frost; the grass a pale green, crunchy under foot.

This book should give the designers at Macmillan a chance to really make something of it. The proof I read had a lovely owl on the cover, but not quite the owl that I would have chosen. It does not depict the dark side as much as it should and there is little or no frost – just some snow like designs dotted around the bird of prey. I have searched the Internet in my usual way to give you a picture of what the actual published book will look like – and the above seems to be the design that Macmillan are using.

I’m afraid, I hope this isn’t the case.

Whilst owls are important in the story, surely this book is about frost, that spiky extraordinary stuff that makes designs on metal, leaves, grass and water… Some while ago I wrote a post on this blog about rime – the patterns found on cars – perhaps Macmillan can find something of the sort to make this volume really stand out – it certainly deserves something of the sort. Something that makes you think it will be cold to the touch – not shinny – cold… We will see what they can do! The pictures below are copies of those I took early one morning of the ice patterns on the tops of cars… I would be very happy for them to be used for this volume…

2014 Mobile Pictures Car Frost 011

2014 Mobile Pictures Car Frost 022

2014 Mobile Pictures Car Frost 013

2014 Mobile Pictures Car Frost 020


Published by Macmillan January 2017

Elizabeth Laird has always written gripping tales based more often than not on facts she has gathered to give substance and reality to her stories.

This volume is no exception. This is the story of Omar and his family, the story of the Syrian refugee crisis and it is the story of people. It is pure luck that I live in a society that at the moment allows me some freedom of speech. Certainly more than many others. I write a blog about children’s books. I have the freedom to write what I like. I go to work where  I encourage children to read, to think about their society whilst doing so – about what is right, wrong and the responsibilities we have to  one another. My sister trained as a doctor and became a consultant – our circumstances could and would have been so different if we had just lived somewhere else. This is a story of a family whose life is the other side of the coin. Omar at the beginning of the book dreams of selling postcards; enough postcards so that he can perhaps purchase a donkey. Then a whole herd. He is bright, not in a school sense perhaps, but with common sense and with the habit of working hard as a back bone to his beliefs. When things change dramatically in Syria, those dreams are quickly and irrevocably destroyed.

This is a story of immense bravery and hardship and is a tale of those whose lives this Christmas aren’t like ours. I wonder how my family would have survived. If I am honest, I am not sure we would have. There are many books being published about dystopian societies – many extreme examples. This small volume’s story, however, is more poignant and has more impact than they have.

Everyone should read this. Should you purchase a copy of the hardback of this book, (and at just £9.99 there is no reason why you shouldn’t) 50pence from that sale will go to an international agency supporting the Syrian refugee crisis. Not much, perhaps, but every little counts.

Elizabeth Laird is an author who choses stories that are often edgy and strong.. They are often based in fact and deal with issues most of us will never have to face and often would prefer not to acknowledge. This book is a must read. If you purchase no other book in 2017,  (which I admit is unlikely), but should that be the case, then it should be this one.

A moving and extraordinary tale of bravery, resilience and families.

Her last comment is to propose that we might wonder what happens next to Omar and his family after the end of the story. She observes that that is down to us.

Other titles she has written include: The Garbage King, The Prince who Walked with Lions, Oranges in No Man’s Land, Red Sky in the Morning and Kiss the Dust.

Published by Bloomsbury

This almost luminous volume really stands out from a table of books, or face out on a shelf – so shouldn’t be easily missed.

This is perhaps a warning to us all – how to replace fossil fuels, in this case petrol with something green. We need to be careful that we don’t go from the pot, straight into the fire when developing science in the hope of creating that magic formula that will give us the power we seem to require to be happy.

Cells divide by two and continue to do so.

2,    4,    8,

16,    32,     64,

128,     256,      512,

1,024,     2,048,     4,096,

8,192,      16,384,       32,768,     65,536,

131,072,     262,144,     524,288,     1,048,576,     2,097,152…

 There are, invariably, small anomalies which usually die out, however, some survive. When the fundamental cells are too numerous to count, the numbers of these anomalies also  increase.

A book of friendship. Bullying, bravery, a reptile, and fuzzy mud.

If when you are out and about working in your garden, or playing in the local woods, your hands begin to tingle, following handling mud that looks, just a bit, fuzzy, then you might think about what you should do next…

It is written in American, with American references, but for all that the book is one that is edgy and thought provoking. If your English spelling is not what it might be, perhaps it may be best to leave this one, until it is. Particularly if you should be taking English examinations in the near future…

Another superb volume from this master of children’s literature…

Louis Sachar also wrote Holes….for which I suppose he is most famous.


Published by Bloomsbury in March 2017

This is the story of Victoria. Actually its about two. There is a slight twist to the true story of Victoria’s life in Kensington Palace,  but based as always in historical fact. This is the story of a young princess, controlled, and driven who finds a friendship where she doesn’t expect it. It is also a story of Sir John Conroy’s daughter named Victoire, who was Victoria’s companion. I rather like the idea of the twist, but wonder how successful such a scheme as proposed by this novel would actually be. The book does cover Queen Victoria’s rather lonely and strange childhood extremely well – and the end is a piece of whimsical pondering that makes it all the more fun.

A book for history lovers…

Lucy Worsly has also written Eliza Rose, also reviewed on this blog, which is already ‘out’ and available to purchase from ‘all good bookshops’.

Published by Harper Collins –

This is due to be published next month – 26th of January 2017

This is a book about passion. A book of dreams, of hope and desire. Its a story of believing in yourself and being a hero – its funny, heart warming and really rather wonderful.

This is about a boy who stands up for himself and his peers – for what is right, who goes, just that little bit too far…and what he achieves in the end is something rather special and important.

Never give up on your dreams – but do try not to have the police involved…

A super book for those cold winter months and the inevitable return to school…I loved it.

Published by Egmont

Not yet published due  out in April 2017

This is an extraordinary and wonderful volume. This is how pirate stories should be – a wonderful mix of fantasy, adventure and traditional swashbuckling – a tale to make your hair curl! A story for those who love something a little different, an unusual and brilliant tale – a tale of whale song, prophecy, danger, evil usurpers, terrodyls, squid, family, opals, sea-hawks, moonsprites, and destiny…

A superb use of language and a rollickingly good tale – the start of a brilliant trilogy – due out in April 2017

Reviewed titles on this blog – in no particular order, but they are particularly good!

Happy Christmas / 2017


Mousehole Cat / Antonia Barber / Illus. Nicola Bayley / Walker Books

Who’s in the Loo / Jeanne Willis / Anderson Press

The Story of the Orchestra: Four Seasons / Jessica Courtney-Tickle / Frances Lincoln

Ferdinand the Bull / Munro Leaf / Puffin

Jesus’ Christmas Party / Nicholas Allen / Red Fox

The Dark / Lemony Snicket / Illus. Jon Klassen / Orchard Books

This is not my Hat / Jon Klassen / Walker Books

Something Else / Kathryn Cave / Illus. Chris Riddell / Puffin

Susan Laughs / Jeanne Willis / Illus. Tony Ross / Anderson Press

The Dot / Porter H Reynolds / Walker Books

FOR 5 – 8 YEARS:

Me & Mr P / Maria Farrer / OUP

A Piglet called Truffle: Jasmine Green Adventures / Helen Peters / Nosy Crow

Life according to Dani / Rose Lagercrantz / Gecko Press

My Naughty Little Sister / Dorothy Edwards / Egmont

Olga Da Polga / Michael Bond / OUP

Big Book of Bugs / Yuval Zommer / Thames and Hudson

Nelly & the Quest for Captain Peabody / Roland Chambers / OUP

Secret Railway / Wendy Meddour / OUP

Wildwitch: Wildfire / Lene Kaberbol / Pushkin

Bicycling to the Moon / Timo Parvela / Gecko Press

FOR 9 – 12 YEARS:

Little Bits of Sky / S E Durrant / Nosy Crow

Very Good Chance / Sarah Moore Fitzgerald / Orion

Wildings / Nilanjana Roy / Pushkin

Longbow Girl / Linda Davies / Chicken House

Flour Babies / Anne Fine / Puffin

Black Powder / Ally Sherrick / Chicken House

Blind Beauty / K M Peyton / Scholastic

Beetle Boy / M G Leonard / Chicken House

Ned’s Circus of Marvels / Justin Fisher / Harper Collins

Wolf Wilder / Katherine Rundell / Bloomsbury


Sun is also a Star / Nicola Yoon / Corgi

How Not to Disappear / Clare Furness / Simon & Schuster

Unbecoming / Jenny Downham / David Fickling

The Hawkweed Prophecy / Irena Brignull Orchard Books

Stone Rider / David Hofmeyr / Penguin

Love Song / Sophia Bennet / Chicken House

Blame / Simon Mayo / Penguin / Random House

Maladapted / Richard Kurti / Walker Books

My Life Next Door / Huntley Fitzpatrick / Egmont

Running Girl / Simon Mason / David Fickling









Published by Oxford University Press

Well done Oxford! This is a lovely book about a young boy and his brother. All brothers have their irritations and Arthur’s brother seems to be one big one. He sometimes struggles with day to day things. He doesn’t like crowds, change, loud noises and headphones… In desperation and in the hope of making his parents notice him, Arthur decides the only thing to do is to leave home…

‘Arthur rushed up to his room, searched under his bed for his survival tin, and stuffed his lucky crystal into his coat pocket. Then he crashed down the stairs and flung open the front door. He barged past the polar bear who was standing on the doorstep and hurtled off down the street, running as fast as he could. He wanted to get as far away from his house, his brother and his stupid parents as possible. He wasn’t going to let a polar bear or anything else stop him.’

This is a gorgeous small volume about siblings, parents, football, the world cup and of course polar bears, and one in particular.

It is not ‘out’ yet – due to be published next month with what looks to be some lovely line drawings (incomplete at the moment in proof form) – a book for everyone with a sibling…

Published by Walker Books

This is superbly illustrated by Nicola Bayley – the detail and colours are perfect and fit the story beautifully. This is a book to treasure. A lovely story – with gorgeous illustrations – definitely for those who love cats…

Simply magical.