Archives for category: Chicken House

Image result for what lexie did shevah chicken house

Published by Chicken House

Lies. There so many different types of lies. There are times, when it seems acceptable to lie. Other times, when its not. There are many reasons too, why people lie. This is a book about lying and how lies, if left, can grow and change, become twisted and affect things that initially seem to have no relation at all to each other, let alone the lie itself.

Lexie tells a lie. Which results in her insides becoming gnarly, like a tangled hosepipe full of steaming purple puss. Which is a very good description of how unpleasant a lie can make you feel.

This is a story about lies and repercussions. Lexie is from a Greek Cypriot family and the most important thing for them is family. Lexie’s lie has repercussions that are far reaching and devastating for everyone. Its a story of families. Of mistakes, jealousy, fear and of being human.

Oh! what a tangled web we weave

When first we practice to deceive!


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 Chicken House

I once had a balloon flight. I was a member of a group called S.P.I.C.E. (Special Programme of Initiative Challenge and Excitement, if I remember correctly), and had become rather ‘hooked’ on anything to do with flying: I skydived, flew a helicopter, a Mark 2 (I think) Provost Jet, experienced a basic aerobatics flight, followed by a second that was to competition standard, flew a glider, a tiger moth (including doing a loop the loop), and had a lesson in a small plane. I also had the flight in a balloon. It was remarkably peaceful and as though the world was turning beneath, rather than we flying above it – it was most peculiar.

This is about the race to construct and fly the first controlled balloon flight. Its about a young fingersmith (pick-pocket) who is employed to steal a box at the start of this intriguing and rather wonderful story. Which seems a simple enough proposal…initially.

Her adventures, though, are just beginning; as a result of a spur in the moment decision she becomes caught in the ropes dangling below a balloon and finds herself being carried above the trees and a barn…the river below a silver slither of brightness.

When she recovers, (which takes a while) she is offered a job working for the family from whom she was to steal the box…and its not long before her disappointed previous employer appears on the scene…

This is (remarkably) the story of the Montgolfier hot-air balloon -which was unveiled before King Louis XVI of France in 1793. I’m afraid I knew nothing of the two Montgolfier brothers, however, the Internet (the modern day encyclopedia), makes this reference:

On 19 September 1783, the Aérostat Réveillon was flown with the first living beings in a basket attached to the balloon: a sheep called Montauciel (“Climb-to-the-sky”), a duck and a rooster. The sheep was believed to have a reasonable approximation of human physiology. The duck was expected to be unharmed by being lifted and was included as a control for effects created by the aircraft rather than the altitude. The rooster was included as a further control as it was a bird that did not fly at high altitudes. The demonstration was performed at the royal palace in Versailles before King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette and a crowd. The flight lasted approximately eight minutes, covered two miles (3 km), and obtained an altitude of about 1,500 feet (460 m). The craft landed safely after flying.

I don’t know what has happened, but 2018 looks to being a quality year for Children’s writing. This is superb – I have even had to put it down at intervals, because I have been too scared to read what happens next.

Out now. Buy it, read it, and pass it on.

NB – I note two authors. Neal Jackson won The Big Idea Competition in 2014 – and Emma Carroll was asked by Chicken House to write the story based on his idea. So you have two authors. Magic.

Published by Chicken House

A story of crime fighters, but not the usual kind. These are from a freak show – each different from the norm and from one another as they could be: grotesque and curious.

This is the story of missing mud-larks, murder, dastardly deeds, murder and mayhem. Set in Victorian London – the Great Exhibition has opened its doors to the great and the good, but otherwise London was still one of the most aromatic places in the world, and not in a good way.

This is a story of misbegotten characters, and the search for perpetual beauty.

Funny, disturbing, engrossing – a book by the author of  The Legend of Podkin One-Ear and The Dark Hollow. Perhaps for slightly older readers – Superb.


Published by Chicken House (February 2018)

Are you proper, or have you been constructed, made to do a job. Do you need to sleep? If you cut yourself, do you bleed? Do you have a soul? Or are you made of metal?

If you are proper, you are real – flesh and blood. If not, then someone, somewhere, made you. If you are adult sized, and look proper, but aren’t, then you are probably illegal.

This is a story of identity. Of lies. Belief and friendship. Gripper, Jack, Manda and Rob are mechanicals. Christopher though is different. They live with Absalom, who runs what amounts to being a junk yard, from which he resources much of his materials… Life is hard, but they support one another. There is time to make the odd snowman between bouts of work…

I haven’t got far with this yet – but it is superb. 148 pages in (of 329) – it has already given one twist, that I didn’t see coming…a twist that results in far reaching changes…

It comes out in February – buy it, and enjoy it….

I am reading a proof – the above illustration of the cover-to-be may not be the one that is actually used. So it is no indication of how good this is. Trust me. I know.



Published by Chicken House January 2018

A tale of sacrifice. Of ice. Friendship and love. This slim volume published by Chicken House is a little different. This is the story of a young girl who is allergic to the sun. She can never go out without cover, never bask in its light, or stroll around a garden. She couldn’t play with other children as a child, and has to go ‘full hat’ if she goes anywhere at all, covered and sheltered from the sun, irrespective of how hot it might be. Her life has revolved around doctors including one who refers to her mother as ‘Mummy’. Life is to be endured, not enjoyed. Her life is curtailed. Controlled.

Until the night she slips out after dark…

A remarkable story, its ending not as many would expect, but the right ending none-the-less.

It is a cold story – full of ice.

It is a story of fears: fear of change, fear of life, but also one of hope and promises and sacrifices…

A book to read in front of a roaring fire.


Published by: Chicken House

Since I wrote my post about this volume one of my customers has been in touch and sent me the following email:

Firstly, I’m very grateful that you recommended The Girl of the Ink & Stars to me. I found it REALLY interesting and wanted to tell you some of the parts I most enjoyed.

Next, what really pleases me about this book is that it hooks you in as you read along. Karen Millwood Hargrave (the author) is brilliant in the style she writes in – it’s funny but also sad and terrifying! All mixed into one book! This is only the first book I’ve read of Hargrave’s and I think I will start to read more!
And like I said before, I really am grateful that you recommended the book.
Kind regards,
Anya Daniels
I asked Anya if she would be happy to have her name and review quoted on my blog and following her confirmation I am now posting it here for her.

Published by Chicken House

This is the second book written by Kiran Hargrave – the first The Girl of Ink and Stars has just won the Waterstones Book Prize for 2017 – it was good, but not as good as this.

Ami lives on an island with her sick mother. She does most things for her as her condition worsens, however, life is good – the island is beautiful, there is fresh water, fruit, butterflies and they are together. When Ami is taken from her island to an orphanage as a result of a directive, she worries about her mother, but soon finds herself also worrying about the other children. They also have been taken from their parent’s and families to protect them; as their beautiful home is designated as a leper colony.

Moving, and rather beautiful this is the story of love, friendship, bravery and ultimately people. It is a much better book than The Girl of Ink and Stars – though that one shouldn’t be missed either. It is just that this one has much more depth.

Enjoy both – they are not connected (apart from being written by the same author), so it is no matter in which order you read them.


Published by Chicken House

There are not many books where you can visit the skeleton of one of the main characters in a museum. This is the story of Maharajah who walked from Edinburgh to Manchester in 1872 and whose remains are to be found in Manchester Museum.

This fictional account of a true story relates the adventures of a young boy who becomes involved in a wager which has far reaching consequences for this urchin of the streets. It is a story of friendship, rivalry, bravery, and a tale of treachery too.

This is the story of an Indian Elephant – the elephant whose remains are in the museum. The story relates the story of an African pachyderm – but otherwise, in all essentials, the story is a true one. Jane Kerr has just added quantity of good quality adventure into the mix.

This is a wonderful book – sensitively and well written – a must buy. Then we must all travel up to Manchester to visit the original Maharajah.

NB. Just a small note – the wonderful elephant illustrated on the cover was done by Chris Wormell – a superb artist who has ‘done’ many other books too – and this one is one of his best… See also George and the Dragon / Two Frogs….to name just two beautiful picture books written & illustrated by him.

Published by Chicken House

This is a mix of a piratical escapade, science fiction, fantasy and pure adventure. The story of Bert who on a school trip to a museum finds himself drawn into the glass and then into a world of danger and intrigue. It is a story of a boy who goes ‘magic’ as his fellow pupils like to refer to those who believe in such phenomenon – it is Bert’s story and it’s a story of an unlikely friendship between him, a pirate and a girl with two metal legs. It is a wild adventure, with magic, a city in the clouds and airships…There is something for everyone in this extraordinary story.

Another good book from Chicken House…

Sadly the picture of the cover failed to stay…