Archives for the month of: August, 2017

Published by Walker Books

This is a rather lovely unique adventure story. A fantasy novel which is a little different. The characters are intricate and well developed. It has a reflection of Charles Dickens, but is also something totally different. No 13 has no memory of anything outside the orphanage where he has grown up. Part fox, part boy he is naive and struggles to survive in an orphanage run by evil Miss Carbunkle. Things don’t look good, and they don’t look likely to change either, until another groundling persuades him that together they can escape…

It has elements of steampunk, has brilliant language and clever ideas – this is something special and like nothing else I have read. Animals that are people at the same time are well mixed into the story – each with their own abilities and idiosyncrasies. Some are more animal than others. Some are more child.  There is even an aye-aye like boy, who is similar to the character of the Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.  Which I suppose has meant I am even more pro this story than I might have been, having become a little infatuated with all things Madagascan…

This is a tale of bravery, mechanical beetles, adventure, and character – frankly something that will take you away from the everyday…into another world.

My proof is a fat hardback – an inch and a half or so thick, and some 450 pages. Illustrations will be prolific, and if the chapter heading devices are anything to go by, should be suitably atmospheric…Mira Bartok is both the author and illustrator.

Advertisements

Published by Oxford

This is, by far, my favourite book by Gill Lewis.

It is the story of two brothers. It is also the story of hen harriers and a divided community. Its about standing up for what is right, or what you believe is right. Its a story of acceptance, learning and supporting one another. Its a story of a family, and yes, a story of two brothers.

It is a wonderful book. It should be read along side A Very Good Chance by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald – it has a similar positive vibe.

The world is changing, there is nothing new in that. Sometimes it can be a good thing. We need to nurture these positives against the negatives. They may be small, but they are important.

This is brilliant – absolutely brilliant.

This superb picture is by Mark Hamlin (www.discoverwildlife.com).

Published by Puffin / Penguin Random House

This is a story of kidderlings, sprogs – children, a story of stinkerful creakers. Its a story of bravery, a boy scout, a king, missing parents, and those entities that live under the bed. 

It is a story of rubbish, beds, shadows, sunlight, sliminess, flaky toes, a jacket and dozy dust.

I believe there are to be four different editions of this new book by Tom Fletcher – my proof had an illustration of Scratch on the cover. Your book might also have Scratch. Then again it may have Grunt, Gugg or even Sniff, my favourite.

This book explains very nearly everything and why, contrary to general belief, there might be something under the bed, but, just perhaps, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing…it all rather depends. An essential volume for those that find their parents have strayed into Woleb…

 

This is due out as a hardback on the 5th of October and is worth every penny… 339 pages of suitably scary reading…not for parents with faint hearts!

Tom Fletcher published The Christmasaurus last year – for which I also wrote a post. This too has many, many illustrations by the author.

Published by Pushkin Books – September 2017

Translated from Swedish by Peter Graves

My proof was/is an oversized paperback, 8 x 6, and about 2 inches thick. Some 589 pages, including the last which is an illustration.

This is the story of Sally Jones, a ship’s engineer who’s captain is wrongly accused and convicted of murder.  It tells the tale of her adventures trying to find a way to prove his innocence. There are many circumstances and people out to prevent her from succeeding – and it is a wonderful tangle of adventure, travel, three humped camels, accordions, music, sailing, friendship, bravery and the odd fight too! I’m afraid I haven’t finished this yet, reaching only page 260 – mainly because I have been reading Sally’s adventures before I go to sleep, and not carrying  it around with me.

Sally Jones is talented, clever and observant, and also happens to be an ape, which means that though she can’t talk, she can certainly communicate, and is literate too. Being an ape amongst humans, however, adds to her problems. She won’t be able to help her captain from the inside of a zoo…

The illustrations at the head of each chapter are superb – full of wonderful detail – beautifully illustrating each chapter – so each is unique, these are not devices, but pictures to be studied and enjoyed as much as the story.

This is, I’m afraid another success for Pushkin. I seem to be a bit of a fan of this publishing house – but there you go – good books deserve good reviews, and Pushkin keep producing good books, and it is obvious they must have good authors to write them. The publisher’s info. states that it should be published on the 7th of September – in a jacketed hardback (just as it should be) – the illustrations alone are worth the extra cost. Buy this for anyone special you know, who like a good book – I am sure you know someone and it would be a delight to receive as a Christmas Prezzie – or ‘seasonal gift’ – whatever you like to call the holidays around December…

It seems I have found something rather glorious – Tom O’Bedlam appears to be a gentleman who records poetry on to YouTube – all sorts of poetry. Beautifully read, deep and rich. Absolutely wonderful. Just put your favourite title into the internet with ‘Tom O’Bedlam’ – and enjoy – really superb and has meant that I haven’t done anything ‘useful’ – all day… just been listening to all sorts and loving it…marvellous. I wish there were a CD, but it seems its just for YouTube…

Hillaire Belloc wrote about Jim, and Stanley Holloway wrote about Albert – both are marvellous. Though I suppose nowadays there would be more of a fuss… There is a rather disturbing (but brilliant) rendition of Jim on YouTube – read by Tom O’Bedlam, who I think rather enjoyed recording it.  As to Albert – he similarly came to a rather bad end. I love the language of both – classics…

Jim

JIM, WHO RAN AWAY

There was a Boy whose name was Jim;
His Friends were very good to him.
They gave him Tea, and Cakes, and Jam,
And slices of delicious Ham,
And Chocolate with pink inside,
And little Tricycles to ride,
And read him Stories through and through,
And even took him to the Zoo—
But there it was the dreadful Fate
Befell him, which I now relate.

You know—at least you ought to know.
For I have often told you so—
That Children never are allowed
To leave their Nurses in a Crowd;

Now this was Jim’s especial Foible,
He ran away when he was able,
And on this inauspicious day
He slipped his hand and ran away!
He hadn’t gone a yard when—Bang!
With open Jaws, a Lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.

Now just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels,
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.

No wonder Jim detested it!
No wonder that he shouted “Hi!”
The Honest Keeper heard his cry,
Though very fat he almost ran
To help the little gentleman.
“Ponto!” he ordered as he came
(For Ponto was the Lion’s name),
“Ponto!” he cried, with angry Frown.
“Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!”

The Lion made a sudden Stop,
He let the Dainty Morsel drop,
And slunk reluctant to his Cage,
Snarling with Disappointed Rage
But when he bent him over Jim,
The Honest Keeper’s eyes were dim.
The Lion having reached his Head,
The Miserable Boy was dead!

When Nurse informed his Parents, they
Were more Concerned than I can say:—
His Mother, as She dried her eyes,
Said, “Well—it gives me no surprise,
He would not do as he was told!”
His Father, who was self-controlled,
Bade all the children round attend
To James’ miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.

Albert’s end adventure was slightly different. One should never push a stick with an ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle into anyone’s ear….

THE LION AND ALBERT

There’s a famous seaside place called Blackpool,
That’s noted for fresh air and fun,
And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Went there with young Albert, their son.

A grand little lad was young Albert,
All dressed in his best; quite a swell
With a stick with an ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle,
The finest that Woolworth’s could sell.

They didn’t think much to the Ocean:
The waves, they was fiddlin’ and small,
There was no wrecks and nobody drownded,
Fact, nothing to laugh at at all.

So, seeking for further amusement,
they paid and went into the Zoo,
Where they’d Lions and Tigers and Camels,
And old ale and sandwiches too.

There were one great big Lion called Wallace;
His nose were all covered with scars-
He lay in a somnolent posture,
With the side of his face on the bars.

Now Albert had heard about Lions,
How they was ferocious and wild-
To see Wallace lying so peaceful,
Well, it didn’t seem right to the child.

So straightway the brave little feller,
Not showing a morsel of fear,
Took his stick with it’s’orse’s ‘ead ‘andle
…And pushed it in Wallace’s ear.

You could see that the Liion didn’t like it,
For giving a kind of a roll,
He pulled Albert inside the cage with ‘im,
And swallowed the little lad ‘ole.

Then Pa, who had seen the occurence,
And didn’t know what to do next,
Said “Mother! Yon Lion’s ‘et Albert”,
And Mother said, ‘Well I am vexed!”

Then Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom-
Quite rightly, when all’s said and done-
Complained to the Animal Keeper,
That the Lion had eaten their son.

The keeper was quite nice about it;
He said “What a nasty mishap.
Are you sure that it’s your boy he’s eaten?”
Pa said “Am I sure? There’s his cap!”

The manager had to be sent for.
He came and he said “What’s to do?”
Pa said “Yon Lion’s ‘et Albert,
And ‘im in his Sunday clothes, too.”

The Mother said, “Right’s right, young feller;
I think it’s a shame and a sin,
For a lion to go and eat Albert,
And after we’ve paid to come in.”

The manager wanted no trouble,
He took out his purse right away,
Saying “How much to settle the matter?”
And Pa said “What do you usually pay?”

But Mother had turned a bit awkward
When she thought where her Albert had gone.
She said “No! someone’s got to be summonsed”-
So that was decided upon.

Then off they went to the P’lice Station,
In front of the Magistrate chap;
They told ‘im what happened to Albert,
And proved it by showing his cap.

The Magistrate gave his opinion
That no one was really to blame
And he said that he hoped the Ramsbottoms
Would have further sons to their name.

At that Mother got proper blazing,
“And thank you, sir, kindly,” said she.
“What waste all our lives raising children
To feed ruddy Lions? Not me!”

Published by Bloomsbury – Early September 2017

I really shouldn’t be writing this post – I should be trying to find a way of making some cash – ASAP.  Instead of which I have listed all the out going amounts (some are estimates; the house is peeling as though it has a bad case of eczema) and its beginning to worry me a bit – not the house, the finances. So I’m doing what I am good at, and sticking my head firmly in the sand, and writing about a proof that I have just finished and loved.

This is a tale of two sets of siblings. The first two are sisters – bound up with each other, getting one another into scrapes as they grow up amongst the higher echelons of society. That is they were, until one sister is accused and convicted of theft – and not just any theft. The other pair are a sister and brother. The sister to become queen, both though, secure and safe, or so one would have thought…

This is a brilliant adventure full of bravery, fear and a wonderful distraction from all mundane things like paying bills, doing the ironing, booking boiler appointments and other such interesting things…. It is a tale of friendship and is full of mystery too.

There is reference, on the back of the proof, to the book being for fans of Katherine Rundell, Eva Ibbotson and Cornelia Funke – and so it is, but I think it is also from a new unique author who is one to watch in her own right.

Also on the back of the proof is a note stating there is to be a second volume – which is marvellous – that is due out in 2018.

Wolves, adventure, mystery, bravery and treachery mixed – what more could you want?

A small comment about design. Each chapter starts with the notation of which it is, Chapter 1, 2 and so on, with an arrow design beneath. Someone somewhere in Bloomsbury has taken the trouble to ensure that the arrow on the chapter headings points one way on the verso pages, and the other way on the recto – which pleases me more than it should. I suspect its something to do with Dad, who designs books…

As always with proofs, I have no idea whether the picture above is the one that will be used on the cover…but it is a rather good one.

It would make a very good House of Ghibli animated film – perhaps someone will read it and do something about that. Sadly I don’t have any connections in the film industry, however, you never know who might just be reading this blog…

 

 

 

Published by Harper Collins.

I think I like most animals. Well, apart from hissing cockroaches – somehow I don’t seem to appreciate cockroaches. They tried to have me handle one in a zoo once. They thought we would have a meaningful meeting of minds. After all, I had just handled a snake or two, and a large rose kneed tarantula (named Rosie) amongst other creatures, so I suppose it was a reasonable assumption. I had to explain that though I was sure Hissing Sid was very nice in his own way, I didn’t want to have him walk from hand to hand, as I had with Rosie. I had, I remember to be quite firm about it…anyway, he survived to be presented to someone else and I was relieved that, to quote Stanley Holloway, that the Manager didn’t have to be called for…

This volume is about the friendship between a young boy and a fox. Friendships with animals should never be just brushed aside. They are as important as those we have with homo sapiens, at least that is what I have found. This starts with the heart rending description of a boy having to release his friend back into the wild…’for his own good.’ Which never really helps as a statement. We know in the front of our brains that perhaps it is, but, then again, perhaps it isn’t. You can never be sure…and there are ways of doing things, and sometimes they shouldn’t be done at all.

I remember once, and only once, walking with Pakka on the common. She took over long to come and I needed to go.  So I left the common without her. Then worried all the way back to find in the middle of the afternoon that she obviously hadn’t been home since that morning…so went out onto the common, called once and she bolted out from the undergrowth calling back as she ran straight to me. She had obviously been searching since the morning. I never did it again, and could never do, what this boy is encouraged to do by his father. Pakka and I lived together with respect for one another. She would wait for me on our walks, and I for her. She supported me, and we watched out for dogs and foxes, because she liked to chase them.  I was there for her when the seagulls flew to close and found her when the magpies ganged up and had her pinned down; we ran home together, she along side me.

This is a superb little book – a story of war, and the powerful connection between a boy and his fox – with illustrations by Jon Klassen, an emotional rollercoaster of the most extraordinary kind…