Archives for the month of: February, 2018

Image result for in the mouth of the wolf morpurgo

Published by Egmont

May 2018

Michael Morpurgo has become known for his books about animals in war. So much so that when I told a colleague I had just read a proof of a book due to be out in May, he assumed that this new title would be another such. This one though, isn’t quite the same. The only reference to animals is that of the wolf in the title, which though pertinent is, perhaps, unfair to wolves…

The book is about two brothers at the beginning of the last war. Both enjoying, words and poetry. One became an actor, the other a teacher. When Hitler changed all of that, one joined the RAF, the other, a pacifist, leaves to work the land.

What happens next changes both their lives forever and one finds himself in the jaws,  ‘in the mouth of the wolf’.

Michael Morpurgo needs no introduction. This book is of his usual calibre – in addition a personal history from this extraordinary author. The book is illustrated by Barroux – simply, but powerfully.

This is not one to be missed. It is to be published in hardback; I hope that, in addition, Egmont gives it good quality paper too. This is an important volume.

 

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Image result for alice dent incredible germs chicken house

Published by Chicken House

‘Finally, if you are lucky and live that long, we’ll teach you to shine and sparkle. Sparkling’s Compulsory.’

This small proof arrived a couple of days ago – and I found myself gently pulled into this rather extraordinary story of world domination, happiness, and germs – or at least the prevention of the spread of germs. There’s probably a word for that (I hope it isn’t hygiene, that would be boring) – the dissemination of germs!

Alice Dent’s parents are more than usually concerned about germs. So, when the Best Minister begins to suggest ways to prevent the spread of things like the common cold, by banning birthday parties, dirty children, and would you believe, giggling, the situation begins to get more than a little serious. Her parents already ban Alice to her room, wear face masks and and disinfect every thing should she so much as sniffle.

The trouble begins right at the beginning of the book, when Alice finds that she is having an unbelievable urge to sneeze, and though she tries every way she can to prevent it, her parent’s soon realise that she has a cold, and once again she is locked into her room for the duration. It is when some strange and rather forbidding men come to take her away, and she hears her parents agree to her removal…that she realises that she has to do something about the situation at once

She escapes through her bedroom window…but finds herself caught by the local police, and as she gives a false name, take her in to care…to Tryton Mell, a school that claims to turn grubby good-for-nothings into politely perfect pupils…

Different and clever – this would make a good companion book to The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones / Will Mabbit.

 

Published by Bloomsbury

Mary was the daughter of Katherine of Aragon and  Henry VIII.

Katherine was Henry’s first wife, whom he set aside to marry Anne Boleyn with whom he had Mary’s half sister, Elizabeth. Both girls were ultimately to rule England. This though is Mary’s story, the story that made a young girl into the Queen she was.

It is a story knotted and entwined in her father’s desperate need to sire a son, with his drive and determination to marry Anne Boleyn, and when that resulted in her death, with his marriage to Jane Seymour.

The Tudors, for me, start English history. From them, my knowledge of history spreads, a little like a poorly made spider’s web.

They weren’t perfect. Then again, history was a different place. They did things differently then…so differently.  Their knowledge and beliefs were diverse too.

This story covers the period before Mary or Elizabeth had ascended the throne. The courtiers, and Henry VIII had nothing to compare, they didn’t know the strength, knowledge and forethought that a woman can have. Hindsight is a marvellous thing. Then again, when you look at our more recent history, perhaps it isn’t so different.

There are gaps in our knowledge about the Tudors. They are the people I’d like to meet from the past – there are so many questions. Not just of this period, but of Elizabeth’s time on the throne, and Mary’s too.

Lucy Worsley, of whom I am quite jealous, lives and works around Hampton Court, amongst other palaces, as their Chief Curator. She knows her history. I hope she will go on to write the other two stories, that of Elizabeth I and that of that much desired boy Edward VI – whose lives were so tied to the need to ensure there was a prince to follow in Henry VIII’s footsteps.

Our history would be so bland if it weren’t for this extraordinary family…

Lucy Worsley has written three books, so far for this age group, though this, perhaps, is my favourite.

 

 

 

 

 

Published by Scholastic

May 2018

A re-imagining of The Little Mermaid.

I received a copy of The Little Mermaid in 1971 – for a prize for attendance at my first school. Not really sure about such a prize. I think my mother should have received it. The fact that I never missed a day was surely down to her. It was an Emerald Book, published by World Distributions and retold by Mae Broadley and illustrated by Jo Berriman – sadly I can’t find a picture on the Internet of it. So it must be rare and obviously, all the more valuable, because I won it at school…

That aside, I have just gone downstairs and found it. Yes, I still have it – its in ‘good’ condition. Well, what would you expect from a girl brought up by an antiquarian bibliophile? I suppose I should really say, the daughter of a bibliophile who collects antiquarian books. Dad may be in his 80’s, but he’s not antiquarian, yet. It is a hardback picture book version with illustrations which are slightly dated, (none the worse for that) and pale; the book wasn’t printed on art paper. So it was a subtly produced volume, the colours were muted. Rather lovely.

I vaguely remembered the story when I received my proof of The Surface Breaks, but not in any great detail. This edition, is without doubt a teen / YA book – written just as Hans Christian Anderson wrote his tales. Without doubt this is a new rendition he would have approved of.

It is a story of coming of age. The patriarchal oppression of women. Of bravery, love and ultimately, sacrifice. This is not a ‘Disney’ version of this tale – it is a strong punchy and determined shout. Dark and twisted.

The cover on the proof has some rather lovely mermaid scales – whether that will translate through to the finished book is in the lap of the ‘Book Gods’.