Archives for category: For 8 and upwards

Image result for what manner of murder christopher william hill

Published by Orchard Books.

I am in the middle of this – having started it just last night and, as always with Christopher’s books, I am loving it.

This, I hope, is to be the start of a long series of detective novels. Funny, well written and frankly, brilliant.

The Bleakley twins have returned once more to their Aunt and Uncle at Bleakley Manor along with their new friend Oliver Davenport – the Poor Unfortunate, to stay for the Michaelmas break. There they meet up with their cousin Loveday, back from school…

‘But what if a girl doesn’t want to hire a copy for a shilling?’ asked Horatio.

Loveday smiled serenely and sliced the air with her hockey stick. ‘I generally menace them until they do,’ she said. ‘It’s supply and demand. I supply the magazine and then I demand money for it.

The mysteries begin on arrival: The much favoured butler has gone, as has the old footman and the replacements don’t come up to scratch, then there is (of course) a murder…

The characters are eccentric and rather wonderful – as are their descriptions….

‘The specimen on display was hunched at the shoulders and his large eyes seemed to stick out like organ stops…’

The Great Aunt, is in someways perhaps the best supporting character…though I’m not certain…

‘I suppose you must be the Poor Unfortunate.’

‘Yes ,’ replied Master Oliver Davenport.

and a little later…

‘I have written Poor Unfortunates into my books,’ said the Great Aunt .

‘They always die.’

and then…

‘If you call me Auntie again I will write you as a character in my next book and I will make quite certain that you die a slow and painful death.’

A mystery of the old fashioned English sort…unconventional characters, a  a clutch of heroes and a determined heroine a snake, an Indian scorpion and pineapple cubes!

I had forgotten pineapple cubes…used to love them…

For those who enjoy Robin Steven’s books. I hope and trust this new series will have as much success as hers. If this first book is anything to go by – it certainly will.

The cover, I’m afraid, doesn’t ‘do it’ for me…however, as you know, you shouldn’t judge any book by its cover…certainly not this one.

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Image result for warrior boy clay

Published by Chicken House

Related imageReading this was a little peculiar. My Mum was born in Kenya, on the Laikipia Plains (central Kenya), and the Maasai (amongst other watu) worked on her father’s farm. Her cousin was Dame Daphne Sheldrik, the Kenyan/British conservationist who worked in Kenya and ran an elephant sanctuary, raising and rehabilitating orphaned elephants. Which though she has now sadly died, continues with its work.

It was rather lovely to read this tale of a young Kenyan visiting Kenya from England for the first time.

Would his Maasai family welcome him, or not? Some of their traditions and social life are very different from that Ben is used to. Would he be able to deal with those? Then there’s the threat of poachers, against whom his mother is working.  Will she be safe? Will he? What about his cousin? The tribe and village itself?

I loved it. It reminded me of my visits to visit my uncle and cousins too – though their lives are so different from those of the tribes that are entwined in their lives.

I may not have been born in Kenya. I have only visited. Africa though has seeped into my blood and is part of me – there is something about the red earth…

A book of respect. Of different cultures. A book of elephants and the importance knowing and the acceptance of who you are, whether partly one thing, and part another, or wholly one culture.

Its a tale of friendship. Bravery. Africa and elephants…

Wonderful.

Image result for a tangle of magic zinck

 

Published by Chicken House.

Translated from the German.

This is a story of inheritance. Magic. Knowing who you are. It’s a tale of dastardly kidnap, and a story of hair. Grey, Icelandic Earth Intense brown and red hair – gloriously red hair. It is also the story of a cat. You must not forget the cat. A sentient road and flying…

It’s a rather wonderful story to read, somewhere cool, with a cup of tea… in the shade.

Everyone will enjoy this one…

One of my shortest ever reviews. None-the-less this is a book to buy and revel in.

 

Image result for book chameleons chris mattison nick garbutt

Published by The Natural History Museum

Since visiting Madagascar, I have rather fallen for these extraordinary reptiles. I enjoy most natural history, it has to be admitted, however I find my interest is piqued, particularly if things are a little different. The designs to counter problems are unique, or just a little strange. Chameleons do all of that and more.

Image result for chameleons chris mattison

So this was an obvious purchase, when I came across it a few weeks ago and ordered it from work. With Nick Garbutt’s quite extraordinarily good photographs, this slim volume (112 pp) is a jewel of a book.

Image result for chameleons chris mattisonThe Contents is comprehensive: Introduction / Evolution and Classification / Size, Shape, Colour and Markings / Enemies and Defence / Food and Feeding / Reproduction and Development / Chameleons and Humans / Chameleon Genera / Index / Credits & Further Information.

The pictures are stupendous and the information instructive and fascinating. The book retails at £12.99 is a good size – 250 mm x 190 mm with many pictures full page, but all large enough so that the detail can be seen with ease and very, very few (perhaps two) that are spread over two pages. The gutter of the book, therefore, doesn’t detract from the illustrations or text – the margins allow for it to be opened without having to damage the spine. Further, I thought this paperback had been glued together, but on examination find that the book has been sewn. So, a book of quality, about an amazing subject, beautifully illustrated. This is frankly, for those of you interested in chameleons, or have a curious mind and an appreciation of beauty, a must buy.

Image result for chameleons chris mattison

Image result for the book of boy murdock

 

Published by Chicken House

The key to Hell picks all locks.

A tale of Heaven and Hell. This is a story of medieval intrigue. Priceless relics, good and evil and an hunch-back goat herder. Oh and some goats, a stroppy donkey, a pack of dogs, geese, wolves and a phlegmatic and rather sleepy cat, amongst others. Boy is taken from the only home he can remember, leaving his herd behind, to travel with a pilgrim to Rome. The year is 1350 a year of change, devastation and fear. Things are not as they seem and Secundus seems abrupt and frightening when Boy begins his journey. As he goes he finds that people are not what they seem either. Ashamed and fearful he keeps his hump hidden, never touching it, and keeping himself out of the way. Secundus wonders at Boy’s relationship with the animals they meet, but is driven to reach St Paul’s Church before he dies; determined to gather Saint Peter’s relics as he travels. Determined to reach heaven the only way he knows how.

The different animal characters in the book reflect the those you might come across – the cat, confident that all will be well, the hounds, the pack of hounds working together as one entity…

This is a super book. Its perfect – the language is just that bit medieval, to give the story colour, whilst at the same time the mysteries that surround Boy and Secundus entice the reader into a superbly written small volume.

Each chapter is headed with wonderful illustrations (I’m not sure if they are wood engravings), that look the sort you might just find on a medieval manuscript – just right for this, and the map at the beginning is perfect, with an angel and devil supporting the scroll at each corner.

This is a beautiful medieval tale.

My only disappointment, I’m afraid, is the cover of this paperback. The book was first published in America – with the cover shown below – which reflects the illustrations in the text and the story. The new cover, doesn’t do it for me, I’m afraid.  I wish they had stuck with American version here. I will have to try and see if I can get a hardback copy from the States. Though I’m afraid I won’t be buying it from Amazon…. Perhaps my aunt in California will be able to get me a copy…since Waterstones doesn’t recognise the hardback’s ISBN. Sigh.

Truly a  wondrous book.

Lastly – a small note, my colleague Amabel, who works with me in Finchley Road O2, really must read this – I think she and her children would love it…

.Image result for the book of boy murdock   Cover image - The Book of Boy

 

 

WTMR

Published by Orion Children’s Books.

I made some very (extremely) brief notes about this book on my mobile as I finished reading it. I had no paper to hand, so typed it slowly by index finger (I do have an oppossable thumb – I’m just not of the generation that grew up with a mobile); some words to denote what I thought, and what the book is about.

So here is a very different review of a rather good book:

Consequences.

Pressures.

Conflict.

Weakness.

Strength.

Descriptive.

Darkness.

Character.

Colourful.

Conservation.

Travel.

Hunting.

Fear.

Frustration.

Leopards.

India.

Haunting.

Escape.

Responsibilities.

Fathers.

Forests.

Touching.

Death.

Courage.

Poaching

Scorpions.

Families.

Hope.

The cover was designed by Rob Biddulph – and to be honest that was what caught my eye. That old adage, ‘never judge a book by its cover’ – is true, however, it is what is first seen, and what first appeals, though I do, generally, read anything that comes into my hands…a well designed cover can entice and excite…as this one does.

I now want to go to India to see leopards…

Image result for riddle of the runes

Published by OUP

Illustrated by David Wyatt of Podkin fame – this is Janina’s first book for children. Up to now she has been writing academic books and papers, which I am sure are very knowledgeable, but can’t be as much fun as this small volume. David Wyatt’s pictures complement the story superbly. Her more erudite titles are listed at the bottom of this blog.

Alva lives with her Viking uncle, her mother, baby brother, her uncle’s pet raven and a wolf in Norway. Her father never returned home from his last adventure.

Alva is a curious, determined young girl and when her village is thrown into a mystery that involves a group of monks from Northumberland, kidnap and revenge she can’t help herself and becomes entangled in an adventure like she has never done before.

A story of revenge, adventure and bravery and one of families, and family ties…

A book to savour – suitable to be read by youngsters, but also to be enjoyed as an evening story before retiring to bed…

I am pleased to say that the book looks to be the first of a series – it is noted as being Viking Mystery 1 – from which we can assume and hope for further books about Alva and her wolf.

The Private Lives of the Saints (2016 Paperback)

Julian of Norwich (2017 Paperback)

Image result for sarah lean sand dog

Published by Harper Collins

Azi is waiting for his grandfather to come home again. He believes that without him he doesn’t belong on the island which has been his home for so long. His uncle tells him that his grandfather has gone to London, but London is a long way away, perhaps though, Azi will be able to go there, and bring him home. Surely he just needs a passport.

It isn’t easy being different, a gift from the sea, without his grandfather. All Azi wants to do is to go back to living with his grandfather by the beach.

This is a story of a monster, many tentacled and the man who leaves to fight the battle against it. Leaving a boy behind, misunderstanding and misinformed too.

This is also a story of new friendship, of friends both canine and human who support Azi, while he waits for his grandfather to return and its a story of hope…oh, and its also about turtles, coming to breed.

The picture below is taken from the Internet – a Loggerhead turtle off Kefalonia Island.

https://kefaloniaisland.org/stories/the-loggerhead-turtles-caretta-caretta-in-kefalonia/

Image result for greek breeding turtles beach

Image result for ella on the outside howe nosy crow

Published by Nosy Crow

This isn’t a big book. The typeface is larger than most. This is the story of Ella, who has recently moved to a new house with her mother. They live alone together, and have a secret that mustn’t be talked about.

This is a story about wanting to belong. To be accepted.

A story of secrets.

A story of betrayal.

Of doing the wrong thing, for the wrong reasons and ultimately its a story about friendship, who are our friends and why.

I haven’t finished it yet – just got to page 148 – and its a book that interrupts your thoughts, makes you want to finish it…but I have paperwork to do. Car insurance to sort out, and a house covered in cat litter (I have a new kitten), which needs to be cleaned…

I will though, go out into the garden later this evening, and finish this…

Its super.

 

 

 

Published by Faber and Faber.

Max is a retiring sort of chap and spends much of his time making small intricate little models. His inspiration is the schools groundsman, Mr Darrow, whose models are perfect. His models are so detailed they include the stairs, and doorways inside the houses. So at every opportunity Max tries to spend time with him, learning how to add those all important little touches, however, his never quite reach Mr Darrow’s beautiful pieces.

Max goes to boarding school, and shares a room with another boy, who seems friendly enough, however, Max isn’t a great one for making friends. In fact he’s never really had one, but they get along well enough to share a room. Sasha is one of the cool pupils – with a crowd of friends always around him, so Max is a little cautious.

Max’s deafness certainly doesn’t help him make friends and he is used to being shouted at, which results in his hearing aids giving off high pitched wines…which are painful. When other pupils do make the effort to make friends with him, he is used to their drifting away, when he isn’t quite quick enough to respond. He can lip-read, but only if he is able to see them straight on…

This is a rather different story of another world. With elements of Gulliver’s Travels (Swift) & The Borrowers (Norton) – it is a story of friendship, war, and playing to your strengths…

Brilliant.

There is also a pet flea named Excelsior in the book. What more could anyone want?