Archives for category: Genre: Animals

Published by Faber & Faber

This is a superb book – I started this yesterday afternoon, in my tea-break. Then continued reading on the way home on the train and then just before sleep. This morning I read it between having my shower and getting dressed, then on the train again, this time on the way to work. Sadly I had no time at lunch, but finished it this evening as I came home again.

The legend of Podkin One-Ear is related by a story-teller, one who tramps the lands to tell tales at times of celebration. The legend he relates is full of good old fashioned adventure, with a young rabbit, the son of a chieftain and his older sister and younger brother up against an evil taking over their world. At the start of the tale, he does have both his ears…

I can only say I loved it – was captivated by the story, which was enhanced by the illustrations by David Wyatt – just enough to give extra flavour to the legend.


This will be a classic, without any doubt. I usually pass on my proofs to local youngsters. I’m afraid this time, I’m keeping this one. Simply one of the best books I have read for a very long time, which is particularly pleasing for this age group. For them, there isn’t enough good writing, so I’m always pleased when I come across something this good for our younger readers…though anyone sensible, who is older than that will enjoy it too…

Published by Firefly Press

There is an old adage that you should never judge a book by the cover. I believe that on the whole this is true (you can miss superb stories, by assuming things, just because of the illustration and design), however, I am also aware that sometimes a cover can lead to extraordinary books.

This is one such.

On the whole books about the environment can be a little worthy, this though is marvellous – which is just one of the reasons why I love it.

I have thought about reading the first book in this series before, but never got around to it, however, my colleague Tom (without whom my working life would be much more stressful), showed this to me yesterday and I fell in love. First with the cover, with its brilliant design and then found myself enchanted by this wonderful story. The plethora of insects, mammals and arachnid characters are colourful and superb – this is about intolerance, the environment and natural history – a gorgeous extraordinary mix – like nothing else I have come across… There are classical and binomial references too – and the details of the lives of the smaller wildlife, out in our gardens is carefully covered, and there are references too to the solar system and the more complicated aspects of physics…

It is one of those special books. The first volume is called Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, which I will read as soon as I can get hold of a copy. I am also excited to report there is a note in Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds that there is to be a third…about spiders – those glorious arachnids… called appropriately enough Aubrey and the Terrible Spiders.

These are books for anyone who is interested in our smaller fauna – with brilliant plots too…I could go on, but I had better not….

Oh, almost forgot – it has some lovely illustrations too – just enough, and not too many by Jane Mathews….


Published by Scholastic

Not yet Published June 2016

This is one of the most charming books I have read. Young Erica lives on her own whilst her uncle travels the world studying birds. He has been gone from home for around two years at the beginning of this small volume, and the money he has left for Erica to use, is getting a little low, which is a worry.

On Erica’s 10th birthday she opens her front door to find a rather confused pachyderm standing on her doorstep with a note attached stating that she has a Legal Right to the elephant. Feeling sorry for him she invites him inside…after all it can’t be good to be left on a doorstep without knowing who or why he has been left there.

Some damage is done to the door frame. More to the stairs and the bathroom, and Uncle Jeff’s bedroom also sustains some as the elephant takes up residency.

This is a beautiful story about friendship, bravery and practicality – it really is a wonderful little book, only 135 pages long, and there is a note in my proof to state it will be illustrated.

Due to be published on the 2nd of June, as a small hardback. I trust Scholastic will give it a good quality binding, such as one that the story deserves. Perhaps they might consider giving it a lovely dust jacket too.

I usually give away my proofs. This one I will keep, along with a copy of the finished volume. It is very special.

The cover doesn’t look to have been confirmed as yet, so I thought the above photograph of an elephant’s eye in such detail might give some indication of what it might be like to live in a small terraced house with a very large Indian elephant.




Published by Oxford University Press

Not yet published at time of going to post – June 2016

This story is about overcoming the odds when they are stacked against you. Finding friends in unexpected places and about wildlife and the environment.

There are some lovely descriptive passages about water-boatmen, snails and deer – in fact the natural history passages bring these elements beautifully to life, and add another strain of colour to the book. It is an impassioned plea for all things wild, both creature and environment. The end of the book is deep and touching –

A book for people who care. It is, perhaps, a book of hope.




Published by Chicken House

This is the second book that I have read recently that contains imaginary friends (I haven’t got around to reviewing the other, just yet).  This is a charming mystery set in Shanghai. It is really rather wonderful with the imaginary friends giving an important and rather special edge to the story.

Full of fantasy and colour this would make a lovely book for someone who is now confident, or to whom the book would be read.

I loved it.

Published by Vintage Children’s Books

I was talking to a young lady today about this book and how wonderful it is.

I also told her that if I attempted to tell her what happens at the end, I would cry.

I always cry. Whether relating the end of the story, reading the end of the story, or watching it. So much so my colleagues have become used to it.

Do not let this put you off searching for a copy and buying it.

It is a wonderful story of two dogs and a cat who travel across Canada to make their way home to their owners; their loyalty to their family and to each other is probably what makes this such a classic – published in 1961 and still in print. Those are the books that are worth buying.

I think it was Disney who turned it into a film. There was also an American film called Homeward Bound – which is also based on the story.  Please buy the paperback before you see it – if it is still available on DVD or whatever. Your imagination will make the story personal – the film is someone else’s idea of what it was like for them to read it. Not the same thing at all.

The mother of the young lady asked whether I would review the book for her on my blog – and so this post really is for her and anyone else who hasn’t come across the story. I have just searched the web and found some YouTube film which I suppose predictably, has made me cry…again.

All is well though – Pakka has just leapt onto my desk and is making a fuss of me – I now have a keyboard with fur between the keys….

Published by David Fickling Books

I have to admit to loving bats.

I thought, when I picked this up at work that this was a new book – I was wrong, it was published in 1999, by Hodder Children’s Books – and I missed it, which is a great pity. I haven’t read much of it yet – just 33 pages whilst at work today – but I have fallen for this trilogy in a big way – Shade is a Silverwing bat – yes, it is about bats, with echo location, wings, and catching moths etc…and it is remarkable. I sincerely hope the next 222 pages are as good as the first 33 – I’m loving it. In particular because using an animal that uses mostly echo location to survive, which is so different from our own senses, is quite a challenge, in itself. Also I love Shade – curious and foolhardy – wonderful. This edition has illustrations by David Frankland – I’m not sure if he was the original artist, but they compliment the story perfectly. I will, of course write more on the book when it I have finished it (and I suspect the following titles Sunwing, Firewing and then Darkwing (also known as Dusk).

I have found illustrations of the covers that we have at work for the first three, but can’t find that of the fourth Darkwing. I hope and trust that David Fickling will have published that volume too. From what I can remember from grabbing my copy of Silverwing from the shelves this morning, we only have three books of the series in stock. I will investigate.