Archives for the month of: January, 2017

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…

This is the film of the book.

Read the book, then go and see the film.

Both are emotional rollercoasters – both are extraordinary.

I feel that Patrick Ness & J A Bayona actually produced a film that honoured the book.

Strangely, the book also honours the film; but you do need to read it before you go and see it.

I cried when reading the book.

I cried, I think, almost throughout the film.

Not to be missed.

Read the book as soon as you can and try and get into the cinema with as few people in it as possible – I had five people at my showing at 17.50 in the early evening.

I don’t believe we disturbed one another.

A film that shows the power of anger and grief in such a way is a powerful vehicle.

Perhaps it was because this was a little close to me, that I found myself so involved, but, that said, I haven’t spoken to anyone else who hasn’t been affected by this film.

It is a pity that with all the sadness in the world that can’t be helped, that people continue to treat others in the way they do –

we should remember this…we are all people after all, and all feel and care, one way or another…

 

 

Published by Oxford University Press

There seems to be a herd of good adventure stories that have recently been published or are about to be – this is one of them. This is a piratical adventure set on pirate ships floating in the sky…with a land mass beneath. Full of swashbuckling energy, with wonderful characters and a brilliant plot too.

I’d like to make a boxed set of good adventure books for this age group –

The Huntress: Sea / Sarah Driver,

Jake Atlas and the Tomb of the Emerald Snake / Rob Lloyd Jones,

The Demon Undertaker  / Cameron McAllister,

A Very Good Chance / Sarah Moore Fitzgerald,

Black Powder / Ally Sherrick,

Fenn Halflin & the Fearzero / Francesca Armour-Chelu  &

Cloud Hunters / Alex Shearer (which sadly I read before I started this blog, and so has lost out a bit) to name but a few – its a good time for adventure.

This centres around Zoya – smuggled onto a pirate ship; however, things are nothing like they seem and the story becomes a whirlwind of a tale of fights, raids, islands in the sky, treasure, evil pirates (yes, it seems there are some good pirates out there as well as those good old-fashioned bad characters), friendship, bravery and family

Its superb…Enjoy it!

Published by Walker Books

This is a ‘good one’ as my colleague texted me, when I mentioned I was finishing it yesterday. That is an understatement. This is a story of a young boy and a monster that comes calling. Exactly what it says on the cover. It is an extraordinary book of hope and acceptance, love and bravery.

I hope that the film I am going to see on Thursday will live up to the book. I am concerned that this might not be the case. My friends, however, all say that those involved with the production of this film of this book are ‘good’, and to have hope that it won’t be a debacle.

I firmly believe that if a book comes out, and a film is then made of it – that you should read the book first and that the reverse of that statement is true too. The Hobbit, (the films) has small nuggets of wonder, (when we first glimpse Smaug and when he spins to get rid of the gold that was covering him, for example), but the films were in my view nothing to do with the original tale as Tolkien wrote it.

If it is worth making a film of a book, then the book must, therefore, be a good one. Why else would you do it?

I never understand why film producers should muck about with plots that the author was happy with when it was published. A part of the book which is intrinsic to the story – that story which was so good that it resulted in the film maker being interested in making a film in the first place. So I’m a little concerned. Never-the-less I have a ticket for Thursday and I hope, as advised, that this one will be different and will have at least the soul, the essence of the book.

If so, I will quietly cry in my seat, as I did in my lunch break yesterday, as I finished this extraordinary book.

I should have read this many years ago – but never got around to it. The film, I admit pushed me into going back to it now, and I knew as soon as I started it that I would love it just as much as I did The Knife of Never Letting Go.

This is not just a good one – its marvellous, full of heart. It is an extraordinary story.

Read it, before you go and see the film.

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