Archives for category: Genre: Friendship

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Published by Oxford University Press

The story of a troubled, young, rich and indulged teenager uprooted from her secure and comfortable life in London and left in the wilds of Kansas on her aunt’s farm. This is a moving, brilliantly written superb tale of growing up, responsibilities and taking on the challenges of disappointment, whilst working towards something important. Life on a Kansas farm is far harder, both physically and mentally than she expects and she is driven to continue her love of dancing out in the wilds, in private, with just a coyote looking on. Dancers should definitely read this…

It is a wonderful book, something for the Summer holidays and one to disappear into – I think it is better than her first book, Dreaming the Bear which is always a very good sign – and something that really pleases me too, it has the right ending – buy it.

On searching the Internet for photographs of the cover, it seems there was a film also called Coyote Summer, released in 1996

This looks to be a better story – I haven’t seen the film though!

Published by Walker Books

David Almond’s books are quite extraordinary, no two seem to be alike – each is a masterpiece. I’d love to know where he gets his ideas from. This is the story of a bus driver. Bert has been driving his bus, on the same route, every day for ten years. He knows every bump, curve and passenger – he has dealt with all sorts of people, the young, the foolish, the friendly, confused, lost and bemused. Things are becoming a little predictable. Until one day he feels a fluttering in his chest and begins to panic and stops the bus. The complaints that result from this unauthorised and unwanted stop, he doesn’t hear, he is too concerned with what the fluttering means. Is this the end? Before the book has really got started? By page 12?

Actually it is just the beginning. This is a lovely, kindly book about people. About how people want to be seen to be bigger than they really are. It is about art classes and art teachers – it is about hope. It is also about bullies, and friendship, but mainly its about Angelino Brown – as unique a character as any David Almond has written about before.

I thought I had written a post about Clay or The Boy who Swam with Piranhas, one of my favourite David Almond books, but it seems I haven’t yet – so along with this one – have a look at those too, along with I suppose, Skellig, probably his most famous book…

 

 

Published by Puffin Books.

Some of you may have read The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, some years ago. This volume continues the adventures of Ted Spark – just three months after he solved the mystery of what happened to Salim, his cousin who, (if you didn’t guess, or know) disappeared off the London Eye. This is Ted’s second mystery – set around the theft of a picture from the Guggenheim museum in New York.

I have dipped into The London Eye Mystery, but haven’t yet managed to read it; it sells itself by word of mouth, and I do like to encourage new good books. I have read enough though to be happy to include it in my piles, with the notation that though not read by me yet, I believe it to be good. I will be reading it very soon; I loved The Guggenheim Mystery – its brilliant and extremely well written.

Ted Sparks is rather a unique character – and having a trip to New York to see Salim should be a holiday to remember, but not for his aunt being arrested for theft….

Robin Stevens is the author of the Wells and Wong detective novels.  There are six so far, and are very distinctive cover wise, with very bright covers. I have read the first in the series (I have too many books to read to try them all) – and wrote a post about it some time ago. This is very different – set mainly in New York, and is a brilliant bit of deduction.

So, for all those potential Poirots, Christies, Holmeses, Chestertons e.t.c that are out there – do read the Wells and Wong books, but start with The London Eye Mystery (Siobhan Dowd), then this and then disappear into Murder Most Unladylike. They will keep you out of mischief for some time to come!

Do remember, though, to read as wide a range of authors as possible – it is very easy to just follow one; only to miss out on new potentially superb authors. Its important for your health to eat a wide ranging diet, the same is true for reading – your English will improve if you read many different authors…(they use different words, and their use of language is different)…. It makes reading more interesting and food, quite extraordinary…

The titles in the Wells & Wong series so far run to six:

Murder Most UnladylikeArsenic for Tea, First Class Murder, Jolly Foul Play, Mistletoe and Murder and Cream Buns and Crime.

There are also two mini volumes: The Case of the Blue Violet and The Case of the Deepdean Vampire.

 

Published by Faber & Faber.

I shall never think of mackerel in the same way again.

This is a beautiful book, unlike any I have read before. Billy’s ‘thing’ is Natural History, the strange and peculiar; the interesting facts about animals that make the subject so fascinating. His hero, is also one of mine – Sir David Attenborough, who makes regular visits to Billy in his daydreams, as his mind wanders away from life when he doesn’t want to deal with the more challenging things that it periodically throws at us all. He watches all David’s programmes, and he knows that he has all the answers to everything – to all the questions, he just has to listen and he will answer.

Billy is different, not the usual boy. Being different isn’t good, at least that is what Billy has found. His class find him strange and as Billy knows that isn’t always good in the animal kingdom.

Then a new boy arrives at school, another boy who is interested in Natural History. He though is different from Billy; he can’t swim, and Billy can. Patrick though, can do other things…and is willing to wait for his friend, when many others wouldn’t.

The imaginative text – which is so peculiar to the book is reflected in the use of typeface  – which along with the illustrations makes this very unique.

It is a beautifully illustrated volume – the book has superb free and paste-down endpapers and a lovely dust jacket with fish swimming on them – and one in particular, a mackerel facing Fish Boy on the front. It is handsomely designed and the pictures really contribute to making this a very special book – they make it more of a gift and rather special.

It has been published in hardback, but it would have been a disservice to both the story, design and illustrations if it hadn’t been. It costs a little more, but you receive more than you pay when you purchase such a volume.

Buy it.

Image: Anne Cecile

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Published by Harper Collins

Running. Everyone does it to some extent if only to catch the bus, chase after a friend. There are others who run marathons, run just around the block, some enjoy running every weekend. I sometimes see runners who run the canal bank which I can see from my study window.

Could you run though, if you couldn’t see? Would you dare to? I’m not sure I would – there are so many obstacles to get in the way – not just inanimate objects / landscape, all those people too, dogs, cats, and if I ran across my local common – there are cows as well – and they would probably come and stare at me, without my knowing they were there.

So, I’m not sure I would.

This is the story of a runner. A runner who can’t see. Who still runs. Regularly. There are some concessions she makes – she knows how many paces it takes to cross various areas of land – but basically she runs on her own and so she runs always in the dark.

It is also the story of recovery. Bravery – and not just because running when you are blind takes a lot of courage anyway. It is the story of a father, and his relationship with his daughter, of families, success and fundamentally relationships.

It is a story that is emotional, driven, touching and one you won’t forget – it is superb.

I read my proof a little while ago – so I’m late reviewing it – actually it got into the wrong pile again, and I have just found it. Many apologies, I thought I had, but on checking  found I hadn’t. Better late they say…

I am more embarrassed than I can say – this again found its way into the ‘saved’ folder and wasn’t published – last updated a month ago…

I will now publish it without further ado.

 

coverPublished by Puffin Books

We have all at some time or another wondered what ‘that’ is in the shadows. More often than not it’s just a shadow, cast by an old coat, a tree, sometimes by something more, an animal standing still and looking back, perhaps also wondering what ‘that’ is, that thing standing so still, casting a shadow that it can’t quite make out.

This is about shadows; the absence of light.

It is not about what makes shadows, but about them, the shadows themselves – those dark areas that shape our world.

It is about families and friendship, bravery, life and death…

As is the way of things, it is also about the opposite of shadows; it is also about light – and a boy Denizen Hardwick brought up in an orphanage without knowing anything at all about his history, apart from his birthday. Which at the beginning of the book he has recently celebrated – he is now 13 – an important age for many, but an extraordinary age for him.

A very clever and dark tale – which I loved –  not to be read by those of a nervous disposition in the twilight. Better to wait for the morning and sunshine. Perhaps in a garden in Tuscany…

You might be safe there…

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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Published by Walker Books

Not Yet Published June

I initially thought this was going to be a book about swimming. Which it is. It is also a story of accepting who you are. It is a tale of dreams, and hope too…

Lou Brown is about to attempt to win a race that will result in her training to become an Olympic swimmer. It all rests on this one race.

As her fingers touch the end of the pool she is certain she has won – there have been no sounds of the others for some while and she has been pushing herself to keep ahead of the pack ever since.

The results are not what she or her best friend expect.

The results are so much more than just becoming another player in Olympic dreams.

I found this book enticing and funny – I loved it – to the extent of being annoyed that my lunch break just wasn’t long enough to allow me to reach a point where it was good to stop. I shouldn’t have to go back to work when I’m in the middle of a good book at lunch…

Brilliant.

 

Published by Bloomsbury

This post must not be read by my friend Min, till after her birthday, or Christmas this year (2016). I liked this book so much I have bought her a copy and she mustn’t read it till she had got her copy from me.

Not only is this a superb little book, with a most intriguing and slightly worrying story, it is also illustrated by Emily Gravett. It was for this reason, really that I read the only copy we had in stock. I am a great fan of Emily Gravett’s picture books (Spells, Wolves, Blue Chameleon, & Meerkat Mail amongst others) and picked this up as a result. It has those wonderful folded covers that give strength to paperbacks, and a rather fun illustration on the cover.

It is the tale of imaginary friends. It is not the usual tale of imaginary friends and is I think a little disturbing. I have never thought of their being a community of characters employed as imaginary friends for ‘real’ people, or for that matter that some of them might not be as benign as we are led to believe.

This was marvellous. If I am ever given the opportunity to purchase a signed copy of this, or a print, or even an original drawing (I would love just a print of Zinzan) I shall do so.

It is a remarkable and unique volume…

I hope Min hasn’t read it or got it…