Archives for the month of: January, 2019

Image result for the umbrella mouse fargher

Published by Macmillan

This volume is more than the usual animal story. A tale of war and resistance in the last war. Spies and traitors. The second world war as never described before. A story of the animals who fought against the Nazi regime – a story of bravery, treachery and friendship.

It is a story with more depth than you might expect. Illustrated by Sam Usher (the brilliant author and illustrator of Rain, Sun, Storm and Snow) which might lead you to believe it might be just a ‘twee’ story – but this is actually something much more.

Who’s to know that the French Resistance was supported by an organised flanks of animals – doing their part too.

This is something else. The illustrations add a lovely element to the book, a softness to take the darkness from the book.

It is engrossing…


Image result for call me alastair scholastic

Published by Scholastic.

My grandfather lived in Kenya running a farm and amongst other animals, he had an African Grey Parrot, named (rather unimaginatively) ‘Polly’.  She was quite a character; he had inherited her from extended members of the family, so she wasn’t a young bird. She was also, as parrots are, highly intelligent.

Grandpa determined that if you worked for him on the farm, he would learn to speak to you, in your own language…it meant that he was trusted and he became quite a linguist as he employed many people from different backgrounds.  He was so good at it, his parrot learnt the different languages too and would respond in kind when staff visited the office – causing much amusement and some confusion. I have always liked parrots.

This book is about these extraordinary and intelligent birds. Sadly not in the wild – or with the freedom that my grandfather’s parrot had. It is though, about freedoms and about realising what you have. Sometimes we can miss what we have in the need to get somewhere else or to have something different.

This is about sibling love. About the different types of love. The fact that sometimes we all need someone – there should always be someone there. Its about responsibility too – and about death as well.

A moving tale of a couple of parrots in a pet shop, the boy who works there and an elderly customer…and so much more.

Parrots are special. I’m not sure about parrots in pet shops. For that matter, I’m not sure about birds in pet shops at all…but this is about so much more…

The picture below is of an African Grey – stolen from the Internet – Birds of Eden Free Flight Sanctuary – in South Africa. Having looked at their site – it is a place everyone should visit – they allow birds, previously caged birds, to fly free – in their 23 meters high, 23,000 meters square forest sanctuary…somewhere that Alastair would have been happy.

Image result for african grey parrot kenya


Image result for starfell willow

Published by Harper Collins –

A tale of magic. There’s lots of different sorts of magic. There’s the ‘Whizz-BANG!’ sort, and the sort that goes ‘Whooosh!’ and there’s the other sort, it seems, that’s a little less exciting, a little less dramatic. Perhaps even a little dull, if worthy. Willow Moss comes from a family with magic. Her sisters they were born with talent. They take after their mother. They have magic – proper magic. They have a talent that you can see, that you can do things with – something out of the ordinary.

Camille, Willow’s older sister, can lift things with her mind. Juniper, her eldest sister, well, her power involves being able to blow things up, including the odd person. Whereas Willow, with her brown eyes (unlike her sister’s emerald green), her talent, enables her to find things. Most things…as long as they are lost. They come to her. Not exactly exciting. On the whole she takes after their father.

Whilst her mother and sisters visit the local Travelling Fortune Fair, Willow is left behind. By rights she should be finding things that her customers (such as they are) had lost, but on turning back, she finds the queue has disappeared and one lone woman stands in their place.

‘Moreg Vaine,’ said the woman with casual nonchalance, as if declaring yourself the most feared witch in all of Starfell was an everyday occurrence. Which, to be fair, for Moreg Vaine, it probably was.’

This is the start for the search for Tuesday – the previous Tuesday has gone, disappeared. Then Willow realises she doesn’t remember what happened – her mind slips from Monday to Wednesday. You would think it wouldn’t matter. How wrong you would be.

This is glorious – wonderful. A book for everyone, especially those who don’t believe they have a talent – who aren’t anything special. Its a book about magic, finding yourself, magic, a kobold from under the bed, a granny, a dragon, a boy with visions…The book is stuffed full of delightful stuff…and adventure.

It will be published at the beginning May and I hope to be able to have Dominique Valente to come and sign copies in store sometime that month. Either way I have decided to make this one my SCBOTM for May. This is not a book to be ignored.


The One and Only Ivan: Katherine Applegate

Published by Harper Collins.

This was published in 2012, so can’t be said to be a new title. I had a feeling that I had heard of it when I saw it on the trolley at work, a couple of days ago. I hadn’t read it though and wasn’t aware of the impact it would have.

Ivan is a silver backed gorilla. This is his story. In places it makes me ashamed to be a member of the Homo Sapiens race. We seem to be able to do so much good, but most of the time we don’t. We stand apart or actively behave in a way that no other creature would. Then suddenly we do the right thing.

This is Ivan’s story, almost, but not quite in his own words. Its moving. Funny. It made me cry. It made me wonder about us. So involved with ourselves. So little understanding. This is a story with heart, the heart of a Silverback Gorilla. They have large hearts. It’s a story for the brave, for those who think out of the box. For those who need to know. Its the story of friendship, a promise and of hope. A story of a Silverback, two elephants, a dog and a child who looks, a child, who sees. Its wonderful – a book you will never forget – a book that looks to the future. What’s more, its based on a true story.

Katherine Applegate lives in California. I wish she didn’t. It would be so much more convenient to have her living here. The pond is a rather large expanse for an author just to pop-across to sign some books. None-the-less – this book is going to be one of my SBOTM – at Waterstones Finchley Road O2 for June. I will, though have copies to sell once I can get the book in again – hopefully by the end of this week – it is one that should be in stock permanently.

On searching the Internet for a picture to illustrate this post, I have found there are indicators that this is to be made into a film/movie – READ THE BOOK FIRST. It isn’t out yet – but I believe that you will regret not doing so, if you don’t. It is a simple tale, but one that you need to read.