Archives for the month of: July, 2017

Published by Bloomsbury.

I haven’t had the joy or the terror of having a child – a mixed blessing / curse. In some ways I would love to have had a child, however, it wasn’t to be. In other ways, I sometimes think I and he or she was lucky. I’m not sure I’d have fitted in to today’s ways of bringing up children… Neither have I had anorexia. If anything I am the reverse. I love food and as a result am, over weight really and not very fit. So this book is about subjects of which I have very little knowledge. It is a powerful and in some ways, heart rending book.

It is a tale of numbers. A tale of a young girl under the control of ‘Nia’. Anorexia has Hedda firmly in her grip and isn’t willing to let go any time soon, and if possible ever. Hedda, though, makes a bargain with ‘Nia’ – if Nia agrees to let her eat sensibly for the unborn child, then she will come back to her, back to her control.

This is in a way a terrifying story. It is a story of hope, mixed with a strong splash of darkness.

I am not sure I would have had the strength that Hedda displays in similar circumstances…and I am lucky in the support I know I wold have had from my family. Read it – and let your family know how important they are…

 

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Published by Egmont

The first thing that struck me about the proof I received was the illustrations and the wonderful cut-out cover. I know that you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but, as I think I have said before – its the first thing you see… Sadly I can’t find any reference to the illustrator of this – on the book, apart from a reference to the copyright of the text and illustrations being that of the author. Her work as an illustrator should be celebrated.

This is a perfect book for October and of course Halloween.

Unicorns are to be feared. Glitter to be avoided at all costs…and fairies – well, one fairy is known to have eaten Tangine’s mother… What more can I say?

My favourite character in this book is the head teacher in Catacomb Academy – Miss Inspine, who happens to be a skeleton.

“Now!” said Miss Inspine. “Right. Please open your books at page thirty-two, the questionnaire on Angel-Kitten History. You have fifteen minutes.” And with that she took off her head and put it in the cupboard for some peace and quiet.

I sometimes want to be able to do that…

She caught sight of Tangine and heaved such a big sigh of relief that her skull fell off.

Miss Inspine was so shocked that her whole skeleton disconnected into a big pile of bones.

It is a gothic tale of a spoilt sprout. A tale of differences and a tale of rumour misconception and secrets.

This is a fun book – will be stuffed full of pictures (by the author, no less) and a giggle for the autumn… There are exclamation marks triplicated (see previous posts), but for this sort of book, it is not really important. It isn’t a literary piece, (it’s not meant to be), it is a book to giggle over. I think this might be a new term for me, a ‘giggle book’.

There is a bit on the back which says it is to be published on the 5th of October 2017  – so look out for it. I hope that it will be published with a similar cover to that they used for the proof. It will certainly be something to enjoy in the run up to Halloween…Perhaps you could organise a Scream Tea to celebrate All Hallows!

I hope and trust there will be a second volume – there is a last mystery that still needs to be resolved.

 

 

Perhaps it is a sign of my age, and it is a development of language, however, I really can’t see the purpose of the current use of the phrase ‘myself’, instead of the simple use of ‘I’ or ‘me’. If it is a development of language, then it isn’t one that I like.

I often feel that the speaker is trying to distance themselves from whatever they have said or done. A form of making themselves a third person. Which, to be honest, makes me question their motives.

 

I am also finding the phrase ‘at this / that point in time’ extraordinarily irritating. Surely it is obvious that the speaker is referring to a point in time – and it would be better to just state ‘at this point, I…’

 

Lastly and more worryingly, I have noticed a propensity for children’s publishers to ‘double up’ their punctuation. Often using an exclamation mark and a question mark together – a sort of marriage of punctuation.

It has always been clear to me when a question has been asked, whether it needs emphasis or not. Where, if it hadn’t been a question, an exclamation mark might have been used.

There are also instances where a single punctuation mark is duplicated. Which is also unnecessary – and on a basic level untidy.

We are now starting to use punctuation without respect for the language or the reader, and I am finding this colours my enjoyment of books. Particularly those written for younger readers.

It is interesting, I don’t find it happening with quality writing (whether for children, teenagers or adults) – more often it is found in the type of book that I refer to as ‘Candy Floss Reading’. A notation I give to Children’s books that should only be read by a child as often as they eat candy floss in a year. Not often. That is unless, of course, there is some other reason why they are reading them…

I know that Mr Brown would certainly have questioned me should I have started to marry punctuation and he would certainly have put a neat red line through ‘in time’ and further have corrected my use of ‘myself’. I can imagine his red mark and the questions at the bottom of the essay – in his wonderfully clear red handwriting.

After reading this, perhaps, though I don’t really believe it, I, (myself), am a grammar snob. If so, I think I am quite content with that!

Thanks to Charles Schulz for the above cartoon…

 

Published by Pushkin Children’s Books

Translated from the Polish by Eliza Marciniak

I am sorry to report that the picture that I put up transformed itself into another – which had nothing to do with Det. Nosegoode – so I have removed the picture that relates to this – it had a red cover and was similar in style to the others in the series. See below…

Very odd…

This is another Pushkin title that shouldn’t be missed. This story of a retired policeman and his dog investigating a theft of a rather special music box. It is charming and beautifully illustrated by Jerzy Flisak.

Detective Nosegoode spends his days playing the flute, and growing radishes. (I’d love to know why he grows radishes. A most peculiar vegetable to grow, I always find them to be too bitter.) He reads the paper to his dog, with whom he discusses the news.  Cody is a rather unique dog.  When the music box disappears Cody has his own views about what has happened and the strange man in the village, with the fake moustache and the poison bottle.

I wanted to illustrate this with a picture of Blackbeard, however, I can’t find a source on the internet. Trust me – it is a wonderful picture. As is the one of the poison bottle.

A book about bravery. Theft. Doing what is right. Poison, treasure and temptation.

As always with Pushkin the design of the book is up to their usual high standard. Lovely paper with nice red, thick card covers. These have the French fold and are as a consequence a little more sturdy, and look more professional. It is set in c. 12 point, I think – though this might be wrong. It is beautifully set in what my Dad refers to as black! Beautifully clear and ‘set’. Though I suppose that phrase is a little redundant now-a-days. The illustrations are bold and give the impression of lino cuts – though this might be inaccurate. This is a super little book.

It is one of three titles. The others in the series are:

Detective Nosegoode and the Kidnappers & Detective Nosegoode and the Museum Robbery.

Image result for a place called perfection duggan

Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd

This is a story of perfection. An uprising. Rose tinted glasses….Jealousy. Families. Tea. Orphans. It is the story of the three Archer brothers, bravery and of course, good old fashioned adventure. It starts with Violet’s family moving to the town of Perfection and a boy who she can’t see who laughs at her as she runs into their new house. When at last they meet she finds that he is called ‘Boy’ and has no parents at all.

I like tea. Personally I have never liked flavoured tea. I like tea to taste of tea and not of something else. This book rather backs my view. There is nothing like a good cup of English Builders’ or Kenyan tea. If I found my favourite brew should suddenly taste of vanilla and orange, I would be very suspicious. Those who like tea that is flavoured, however, would perhaps be beguiled….

Boy’s and Violet’s adventures become intricate and compelling. Violet’s father has disappeared. Her mother has started to bake cakes, and isn’t really sure about her daughter any more. For that matter nor is Violet sure of her mother. Boy too has questions. What happened to his parents? Why was he left at the orphanage? What is his history…

Perfection sometimes, isn’t everything it is held up to be. Sometimes normality is better. After all who can say what perfection is? Mine certainly wouldn’t be yours, I’m sure…Imperfection or differences should be celebrated…

At the end of it all, it seems it’s not. That is, The End.  After all, what did happen to Edward Archer?

There will be more.

 

 

Published by Pan Macmillan.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Which is probably true – though it is without doubt the first thing that attracts a reader, if they haven’t met the author before. In this case it was Chris Riddell’s illustration that caught my eye. Twice. Then I succumbed and I am very pleased I did – a superb story of a young boy who has, as far as he can remember always been the ‘owner’ / ‘caretaker’ of ‘the box’ which contain three demons – up to mischief at any opportunity. One, somewhat smelly, another frankly cantankerous and the third – well he’s just greedy for the smell of chips…

When he was younger the demons were at least funny, however, now things are getting a little more serious…he has always been deemed as a little ‘odd’, but now it is becoming something more. When Ben comes across an angel, who tells him he can be rid of the box, it seems like a dream come true. Perhaps there will be silence…the music the box makes is a continuous noise in Ben’s head, and for that alone, he would do almost anything….just for some peace and quiet.

I am just a little over half way through this and I can confirm it is brilliant.

Go out and buy it.

It is with some regret that I notice that there was once a Special Edition of this – I never saw it. I wish I had seen it – I’d have had a copy… A greater regret, is that this was first published in 2015 and as a paperback – last year. One that I missed, but not one you should.

 

Published by the Private Libraries Association.

For publication early 2018.

This will be a two volume account of the early private presses that were active in the British Isles in the 18th and 19th centuries. It will not include the Kelmscott and Eragny Presses – which have already been comprehensively covered elsewhere.

This publication will, however, include details of presses worked from domestic premises; where the press was worked at home, or in some cases within a school. It does not include commercial enterprises.

There will be up to a hundred reproductions along with a bibliography of around 1,750 books and 850 pieces of ephemera printed at the presses.

The two volumes will be retail at £80, however, copies of the ordinary edition will be available for free for members of the Private Libraries Association, for those who are members for both 2017 & 2018. Membership costs £30 per annum (£15 for students up to 16 years of age) and can be applied for by writing to Jim Maslen (details below).

There will also be a special limited edition (100 copies) that will include c.12 specimen leaves taken from defective volumes of the presses. These will retail at around £170, not including postage. Orders may be placed by contacting David Chambers (details below).

The final prices have not yet been settled, however, provisional orders may be requested for the books and invoices will be sent out on publication.

Jim Maslen

29 Eden Drive, Hull HU8 8JQ (maslen’maslen.karoo.co.uk)

David Chambers

Ravelston, South View Road, Pinner, Middlesex HA5 3YD (dchambrs@aol.com)

 

 

 

 

 

Published by OUP

I always remember this book for three reasons. The first is that it is a very good story – the first that was published by this author. The second reason, because it is about a bird of prey and the third, because the title is a misnomer.

The story is brilliant, so much so I organised for a school to have an event based around the book. I love birds of prey and the book is a superb story about ospreys, and a nest that is found on a farm in Scotland…

When the author came to give her talk – which was filled with natural history and information about how the book came to be written, I asked her about the title. After all the book is about an osprey – an eagle, and not a hawk.

Oxford University Press’ decision to inaccurately (in my view) give the story this title has mystified me ever since. It is a good title. It should not, however, have been given to this book – there are many others it could have had.  So, this book is not about a hawk, it is about an eagle – and children who become bound into its story.

If you think birds of prey are extraordinary creatures or you love birds or wildlife and adventure, then this is the book for you.

Gill Lewis has written quite a number of books for this age group since this came out:

White Dolphin / Moon Bear / Scarlet Ibis / Gorilla Dawn / Sky Dancer (October / Hen Harriers).

 

 

This is a stunningly beautiful slim small volume. It contains a simple tale of a small group of people; adults, children and a dog.  Adrift in the sea in a boat. They don’t have much to share: their stories, a scarf, a scrap of food, the warmth and affection of an animal and a violin. The violinist, who couldn’t leave his instrument behind, plays some music and tells his story and that of the violin in his hands…

This is a book about freedom – hope and bravery.

 

 

 

 

Published by Macmillan

I am a fan of Chris Riddell. I have been for some time – he is extraordinarily talented (to a degree that makes me more than a little jealous), has a brilliant sense of humour and further, a sense of the absurdity, not to say horror of the world that we live in.

He is by turn a political cartoonist (Observer), a passionate believer in and campaigner for libraries and reading, he is the Children’s Laureate until the end of this year and can sketch a ‘Rarely seen six-toed Sloth’, within seconds of being set the challenge. I know this, because I set it, and have it framed on my wall.

I have a greater challenge for him, the next time I see him – I would like to see him sketch an aye-aye – they are such weird creatures, and so wonderful. I’d love to see how he goes about it…

That though is perhaps more about the man himself than this book – which is a celebration really of the work he did (and is doing, after all he still has six months to go) over the period of his Laureate-ship – if such a word exists.

It contains examples of everything you could imagine – the man’s work is prolific – political cartoons, characters from his books, and from famous stories too, his family, himself, of drawings and sketches of the world as it spins in its sometimes horrendous ways…

It is a snippet not only of his extraordinarily busy time over the last few years, but also of our lives too…

It is, in a way a coffee table book – one for dipping into. I would say one to enjoy when seated on the traditional throne, but it is too nice a book for that. Once picked up, you will want to flip to something else…and so on. A momentary drift into this volume turns into a half hour, when you should, as I, be hanging out washing, or hovering the house….