Archives for category: David Fickling Press

Published by David Fickling Books.

They say you should never judge a book by its cover. I know it, but sometimes a cover can say so much and you know its the book for you. I knew it, as soon as I saw this in the publisher’s catalogue in the staff room a few days ago. So I ordered a copy. What else would you do?

After all, it has a chameleon on the cover.

Oh, it also has a hippopotamus, a key hole and some bees on it too.

Which are nice, however, I do like chameleons.

This is really something special. Helen Cooper is the author of a small ‘run’ of picture books about soup – Pumpkin Soup, Delicious and Pipkin of Pepper and another picture book title, The Bear Under the Stairs. This, though, is her first novel and what a novel it is.

Helen Cooper makes reference to a wide range of species in the story – there is an elephant shrew (a species I love, almost as much as chameleons),  a pygmy hippopotamus (the eponymous hippo), an okapi is mentioned…a russet kangaroo, nine giraffe (in bits), and an owl (named Flumery). The book is stuffed full of animals with simply superb characters, including the bees.  Ben isn’t sure about them. I think bees are beautiful, but I always show them respect. Actually I have learnt to give all animals respect and a little bit of space. The smallest can have the largest effect on the rest of your day… Then there are the human characters, both good and bad…including a (possible) witch in a bottle… I have learnt to give many human characters space too. Particularly any I think might be witches (especially if they aren’t in bottles)…after all two witches are supposed to be in my ancestry…so it could be said I should know a little about that.

This is a magical adventure with lovely illustrations, all done by the author. The animal characters are not the usual cat and dog types. These are different. Though there is nothing wrong with a cat and dog story…but there aren’t many stories with a chameleon called Leon in it…One of the reason for loving the book so much is that Helen seems to have investigated the behavioural traits of the animals and this is reflected in their characters and what they do – which is marvellous.

I haven’t finished it yet – only started it today when I got it at lunch…I’m up to page 138 …. but one of my favourite parts (so far) is about Leon.

Leon’s tongue shot out like a rocket and recoiled with a bee captured on one end. The bee had no chance, for a chameleon has an incredible tongue, twice the length of its body, with a bulbous ball of muscle at the end like a suction cup, which can move at ballistic speed – faster than a fighter jet. Naturally, the other bees arose in a fury.

‘Where’s your respect?’ Flummery hooted….

Leon turned his back. Languidly he plucked the bee from his tongue and dangled the struggling insect above his bucket-like mouth, murmuring, ‘Shall I swallow you? Shall I bite you in half and nibble your wings?… 

Read it out loud up to Christmas – make a tradition of reading it up to Christmas every Friday and Saturday night from the last Friday in November…till Christmas day.

Its wonderful.

I am hoping to have Helen come to Waterstones Finchley Road O2 in January to sign copies…but have only just sent an email about it to David Fickling Books. Keep your fingers crossed…

 

 

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Published by David Fickling Books

Garvie Smith, Like Sherlock – but lazier

This is the second volume in the Garvie Smith series. I wrote about Running Girl a while ago, having rather fallen in love with Garvie. A young man whose abilities that far out weigh his inclinations to work towards his up and coming  exams.

In this new book  his mother is nearing melt-down.

The school that Garvie ‘attends’ is now in the throws of examination time – everyone is revising, and spending their last few hours and minutes before each exam, studying, writing notes, and reading over stuff, just one more time.

Garvie, of course, is not…His uncle keeps taking Garvie aside to talk to him, explaining what needs to be done. At least to keep his mother happy.

His mother is desperate, and keeps pulling him aside to stare at her son, her voice becoming more and more stringent as Garvie stands before her in the kitchen, explaining yet again what happened.

Garvie would like to keep his mother happy. The problem though is that a pupil from his school has been murdered. The most unlikely boy to die, you might have thought. A violinist – who never allowed his violin out of his hands. So what happened to it?

Another gloriously funny crime novel – set around some of my favourite characters… Inspector Singh is still struggling to keep his sanity (and his job) with Garvie’s exuberance and ‘help’, and he finds himself doing things he’d never usually think of doing…

This one has been published in hardback – but is well worth the slightly increased expenditure.

unbecoming-coverPublished by David Fickling Books

This was one of those books that I couldn’t put down. Katie is trying to find out who she is and what she wants. She has a secret that she is not sure what to do with. Her father has disappeared and her mother is becoming more and more controlling. Her younger brother has issues too, and out of the blue her grandmother arrives into the family circle suffering from a progressive form Alzheimer’s. A time grenade walking into Katie’s family.

This is someone Katie has never met, never been introduced to and it seems both she and her mother have secrets too. What happened to her great aunt and who is this woman who claims to be her estranged grandmother? What happened between her mother and this woman? A complicated story about relationships, responsibilities and families. It is also the story of a young girl learning to take on more than she thought she could, who begins to investigate her history, her mother’s and her grandparent’s and in the process begins to find out exactly who she is and what she wants from life.

 

 

 

 

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Published by David Fickling

This small octavo hardback, with a dramatic orange/yellow dust jacket attracted my attention at work this week. Published by David Fickling and bound in black boards, slightly smaller than many paperbacks it made quite an impact.

Everyone knows about how Icarus flew too close to the sun. This tale is modern, and just as dramatic. After all Icarus’ attempt failed because he used wax to glue his feathers; in this case spearmint gum is used. Lots of it.

This is a story of secrets, determination, families including all their failings and of course, friendship.

It is a hardback, with a hardback retail price of £10.99 – but worth every penny.