Archives for category: Pan Macmillan

 

Published by Pan Macmillan.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Which is probably true – though it is without doubt the first thing that attracts a reader, if they haven’t met the author before. In this case it was Chris Riddell’s illustration that caught my eye. Twice. Then I succumbed and I am very pleased I did – a superb story of a young boy who has, as far as he can remember always been the ‘owner’ / ‘caretaker’ of ‘the box’ which contain three demons – up to mischief at any opportunity. One, somewhat smelly, another frankly cantankerous and the third – well he’s just greedy for the smell of chips…

When he was younger the demons were at least funny, however, now things are getting a little more serious…he has always been deemed as a little ‘odd’, but now it is becoming something more. When Ben comes across an angel, who tells him he can be rid of the box, it seems like a dream come true. Perhaps there will be silence…the music the box makes is a continuous noise in Ben’s head, and for that alone, he would do almost anything….just for some peace and quiet.

I am just a little over half way through this and I can confirm it is brilliant.

Go out and buy it.

It is with some regret that I notice that there was once a Special Edition of this – I never saw it. I wish I had seen it – I’d have had a copy… A greater regret, is that this was first published in 2015 and as a paperback – last year. One that I missed, but not one you should.

 

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Published by Pan Books

I have been a ‘fan’ of Gerald Durrell’s since I was a child and read My Family & Other Animals along with the other natural history books that he wrote. I remember them with great affection, but haven’t read them for a while. Recently a new book has been published, a biography of his family (The Durrells of Corfu / Michael Haag) which I read and in which I found reference to this book, Marrying off Mother & Other Stories by Gerald Durrell – one I knew nothing about.

It contains just eight glorious vignettes of writing. There is a small note at the beginning of the book – A Word in Advance from the author, “All of these stories are true or, to be strictly accurate, some are true, some have a kernel of truth and a shell of embroidery…”

They cover everything from the story of a truffle hunting pig, a butler, and a boat trip, through to the eponymous marital arrangements for Gerald Durrell’s mother. It is not so much the stories, though once more Gerald Durrell has had me laughing out loud, but the use of language – he had a wonderful use of language, and I am only sorry that he died in 1995 – I would have liked to have written to him to tell him how much I enjoy his writing. These stories remind me a little of Saki’s short stories – brilliant observations of people and life.

“She was not ready when she should be, always she did not want to do what he suggested and, sin of sins, she left stockings and brassieres lying about on the floor in her efforts to get dressed quickly. He felt that this last habit, combined with a certain age gap, made the idea of marriage impossible or, if not impossible, suspect. I said I thought that that was exactly what he wanted: someone young, vital, who would argue with him and keep him permanently waist-deep in discarded brassieres and stockings. I said that marriages had been ruined by the wife being too tidy and that many others had been saved by a brassiere being dropped at the right moment…”

“My creatures, each in its own way, abused me, reviled me, slandered me and condemned me out of hand for being five minutes late with their food. But gradually their ferocious criticism of my callousness died away to give place to the contented champing of jaws, the slushing of frit and the cracking of nuts…”

“She was a small, fragile woman whose skin, at the throat, hung in folds and pleats like a curtain. Her face was a network of fine wrinkles like a relief map of the mouth of some great river. Her nose was prominent and arched like an eagle’s beak. Her eyes were blue, a muzzy, watery blue, like faded periwinkles, and in the left one she wore a monocle tethered by a long piece of watered ribbon….”

This is an adult book – or perhaps a young adult. My Family and other Animals should be read by everyone – and has its own post on this blog. I shall presently write another for The Durrells of Corfu (Haag) – to complete the ‘set’ – that too is an Adult book, perhaps in some ways more than this. It does contain photographs which could be said to be a little revealing.

Sadly I have tried to copy the cover of this book onto the post – but it refuses to come – so I have resorted to the above image of Gerald Durrell – the book has a picture of a blue lake with a building in the middle, and some boats to the side. Its not a large book by any means…but the contents are delicious.

 

 

 

 

9781447276494the20reader20on20the206-27Published by Pan / Translated from the French by Ros Schwartz

If you don’t read anything else this summer it won’t really matter – I can’t think that there will be much that will give as much pure joy and pleasure as this small volume.

I started to read this whilst reading three other titles (as is often the way of things); it quickly became, however, the only book I read for two days.

This is gorgeous, and is one of the most charming and funny books you will ever read.

Guylain Vignolles works at a book pulping factory. A job he abhors, but carries it out with care and respect for the volumes that pass through his hands. Each evening he steals away the odd leaf that didn’t quite make through the workings and had came to rest on the inside of the machine. In the morning, after drying the sheets, he reads from them. An eclectic set of texts, to a train carriage of people who listen avidly.

This is a story of friendship, and of two quests. five-goldfish-swimming-with-bubblesOne for a pair of limbs and the other for something much more important. Beautifully written and translated (it is a French volume) with a lovely use of language and character – it is a book of hope.

It is extremely rare for me to find an Adult’s book that I have enjoyed so much.

Many adults I come across say they have no time to read. They have too many books to read already.

Make the time, and further, put the others aside. This is not a big book, but it is a marvellous one.

 

Published by Pan Macmillan

Ottoline and the Yellow Cat: ISBN 9781405050579

Ottoline goes to School ISBN 9781405050586

Ottoline at Sea ISBN 9781405050593

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse / Hardback / ISBN 9780230759800

Goth Girl and the Fete worse than Death / Hardback /  ISBN 978 0230759824

Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright / Hardback / ISBN 978 1447277897

Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen /  Paperback / ISBN 978 1447282417

My first piece of advice is to buy all these books in hardback. Macmillan have out done themselves with the hardback editions. They really are some of the nicest well produced volumes for this group (actually for any age group) and make superb gifts. They really are very special.

The first book was Ottoline and the Yellow Cat – the red one. Then follows Ottoline Goes to School, the purple, and last, but certainly not least is Ottoline goes to Sea (blue and my favourite – because of the manatees)Each book has an additional bit – one has a selection of stickers in the back, another has some special goggles and one has postcards. The books are filled – absolutely to the top with Chris Riddell’s superb illustrations. Some pages have no text all, others just a little. Some pictures have little notes all over them. They are glorious for those young ladies (these really are for young ladies, I’m afraid) who are just ‘getting their feet’ with reading – so the odd page which is totally given over to illustration is wonderful. To be read with an adult or not, depending on how confident you are – they really are gems – gorgeous.

The paperbacks, by their very generic existence, in comparison to the hardback are nice, but nothing like as gorgeous and satisfying as the hardbacks. The stories are fun and clever too. You really can’t go wrong with these.

Then came The Goth Girl books – three regular novels in hardback, and one of those World Book Day books as a small ‘extra’ in paperback – Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, Goth Girl and the Fete worse than Death, Goth Girl and The Wuthering Fright (this is not yet published – 24th September 2015) and Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen.
It is to be hoped that the publishers never degenerate the hardbacks to paperback as they have with the Ottoline books.

These hardbacks have sumptuous end papers (see above and below) and are again filled with illustration. They are for older readers without a doubt – there are references to literary ‘master-pieces’ – Moby Dick for one, but it is once again the plots and the pure design and beauty of these books that will give as much pleasure as the stories themselves. Buy these too, in hardback, before they do something dreadful with them – Once paperbacks are produced, it is often the case that the hardbacks die-out/become extinct and really that just would not do.

If you are wondering if you should purchase any of these now, because your daughter is a little young for them yet, I suggest you buy them as an investment for the future. They really are wonderful – both the Ottoline  and The Goth Girl books. Buy them in hardback whilst you may. There are after all only five of them…and not only do the Goth Girl volumes (the hardbacks, published so far) have the wonderful end papers, but they also have their edges purple or red (depending on the title) – as special books used to be gilded – so ‘all edges purpled/red’ – what more could anyone want?

NB. On revisiting this post it seems my pictures are not being displayed. My only advice, since I can’t seem to get WordPress to do so, is to find them as soon as you can and buy them. The publishers will without doubt one day decide the hardbacks are too expensive , and then if you haven’t bought them, you will certainly regret it.