Archives for category: Scholastic

Image result for morgan charmey teen witch birchall scholastic

Published by Scholastic

Morgan has never been to school. She has been taught at home by her Mum’s best friend. The one thing she really wants though, is to go, however, she won’t be doing that (or learning to fly) until she has passed her Young Witch Exam…which so far she has spectacularly failed to do.

At the start of this story everything changes and she at last manages to pass her exam. She will be going to school, to make new friends, to be a ‘normal’ teenager. Though one with an extremely annoying familiar (yes, witches do have familiars) and the ability to practice magic. Though obviously she won’t be doing that…

Things though, don’t quite go to plan…

I loved this – funny and thoroughly enjoyable. I particularly loved her shape shifting familiar Merlin…

Lovely stuff.

 

Image result for the unexpected find ibbotson

Published by Scholastic.

A mystery. A storm and an extremely cold, not to say freezing Swedish winter. This is the story of a skein of three friendships twisted together and compelled to travel in the hope of finding the answers to their questions. It is a story of friendship, trust and bravery.

It is something we may all enjoy reading as the temperature rises in June – it is a long time since I read something that was so compelling and describes the sense of touch, in this case cold, so fundamentally.

Enjoy it. Something different for the Summer.

No idea if this really will be the cover…due out in June 2019

Image result for call me alastair scholastic

Published by Scholastic.

My grandfather lived in Kenya running a farm and amongst other animals, he had an African Grey Parrot, named (rather unimaginatively) ‘Polly’.  She was quite a character; he had inherited her from extended members of the family, so she wasn’t a young bird. She was also, as parrots are, highly intelligent.

Grandpa determined that if you worked for him on the farm, he would learn to speak to you, in your own language…it meant that he was trusted and he became quite a linguist as he employed many people from different backgrounds.  He was so good at it, his parrot learnt the different languages too and would respond in kind when staff visited the office – causing much amusement and some confusion. I have always liked parrots.

This book is about these extraordinary and intelligent birds. Sadly not in the wild – or with the freedom that my grandfather’s parrot had. It is though, about freedoms and about realising what you have. Sometimes we can miss what we have in the need to get somewhere else or to have something different.

This is about sibling love. About the different types of love. The fact that sometimes we all need someone – there should always be someone there. Its about responsibility too – and about death as well.

A moving tale of a couple of parrots in a pet shop, the boy who works there and an elderly customer…and so much more.

Parrots are special. I’m not sure about parrots in pet shops. For that matter, I’m not sure about birds in pet shops at all…but this is about so much more…

The picture below is of an African Grey – stolen from the Internet – Birds of Eden Free Flight Sanctuary – in South Africa. Having looked at their site – it is a place everyone should visit – they allow birds, previously caged birds, to fly free – in their 23 meters high, 23,000 meters square forest sanctuary…somewhere that Alastair would have been happy.

Image result for african grey parrot kenya

 

 

Image result for The Beetle Collector's Handbook (Beetle Boy

Published by Scholastic.

This could be described as just an ‘extra’ book – one to accompany Maya Leonard’s Beetle Boy trilogy, that has swept the world over the last few years. Similar to those slim books that are published along side the Harry Potter series.

I would though, have to disagree. This is so much more.

It is a reference book (a real one) for all those newly inspired lovers of all things coleoptera and also for those who have known and loved beetles all their lives.

It is, frankly, beautifully illustrated by Carim Nahaboo.

That is a bit of an understatement.

It is full of interesting facts, figures and as I said, some superb illustrations.

It seems to have been owned by Darkus (from the Beetle Boy trilogy for those of you who still haven’t read the books) – and so there are some ‘soiled’ and, or pages that have been ‘written on’. I am glad to say that these additions haven’t affected the illustrations…

One thing to note, for some reason that I can never understand, the publishers have (as so many do) decided that the book requires a sticker on the cover to advertise the Beetle Boy connection. When removed, this damages the cover, lifting the red colour. Which is a pity. The sticker wasn’t necessary. I have a first edition tucked away for me at work (I haven’t had time to buy it yet), but hope that perhaps some will be published without this. It may mean I have to buy two. One first edition, the other a later one.

On the positive side I can confirm that

Maya Leonard is coming to Waterstones O2

on Sunday the 24th of November

to our Christmas Book Festival.

She will be signing copies of this gorgeous book.

Come and meet her and talk all things beetle!

 

I have just looked up Carim Nahaboo and have found the following site:

https://www.carimnahaboo.com/?lightbox=imageog

Purchases can be made of postcards of everything from mammals to – yes invertebrates including beetles…and there are some silver examples that are sometimes available to buy, by discerning coleoptera lovers…

 

 

 

 

 

Published by Scholastic

May 2018

A re-imagining of The Little Mermaid.

I received a copy of The Little Mermaid in 1971 – for a prize for attendance at my first school. Not really sure about such a prize. I think my mother should have received it. The fact that I never missed a day was surely down to her. It was an Emerald Book, published by World Distributions and retold by Mae Broadley and illustrated by Jo Berriman – sadly I can’t find a picture on the Internet of it. So it must be rare and obviously, all the more valuable, because I won it at school…

That aside, I have just gone downstairs and found it. Yes, I still have it – its in ‘good’ condition. Well, what would you expect from a girl brought up by an antiquarian bibliophile? I suppose I should really say, the daughter of a bibliophile who collects antiquarian books. Dad may be in his 80’s, but he’s not antiquarian, yet. It is a hardback picture book version with illustrations which are slightly dated, (none the worse for that) and pale; the book wasn’t printed on art paper. So it was a subtly produced volume, the colours were muted. Rather lovely.

I vaguely remembered the story when I received my proof of The Surface Breaks, but not in any great detail. This edition, is without doubt a teen / YA book – written just as Hans Christian Anderson wrote his tales. Without doubt this is a new rendition he would have approved of.

It is a story of coming of age. The patriarchal oppression of women. Of bravery, love and ultimately, sacrifice. This is not a ‘Disney’ version of this tale – it is a strong punchy and determined shout. Dark and twisted.

The cover on the proof has some rather lovely mermaid scales – whether that will translate through to the finished book is in the lap of the ‘Book Gods’.

 

 

Published by Scholastic (February 2018)

A rather good story written in, sometimes overly, colloquial English, quasi American. So much so, it did colour the book for me, and not positively. I am uncertain as to where it is set – perhaps in the US, but it could just as well be somewhere imaginary.  It is written in the first person and tells the story of a girl’s search for her father. It is the story of a rather marvellous witch, and of course magic. Good against evil. School bullies and their stories too. Ghosts. It is the tale of a dog, with a wagging tail – brave and true.

It is a most extraordinary book. If the story hadn’t been so good, I’m afraid I would have found the English would have brought me to a halt. Mainly as I think we should encourage ‘good’ clear language for young readers, so that becomes the norm (particularly for exams and the like), and the more interesting, should perhaps be for later, once clear good English is the practice.

That said, there were some rather nice ‘nuggets’.

Then she told Ma the whole of Culleroy would think I was being raised by mudskippers.

… his spider-brown eyes followed me around. They were deep-set as if someone had pushed them hard into his skull.

Bird song floated up from the valley. I smelled the breath of the forest: all sticky pine and baked herbs and wild flowers and hot grass. Insects hummed and rattled and zizzied; bees gathered on giant bushes of yellow flowers as if they were dropping into their local diner for pollen shakes; ants march and lizards flicked their tails and butterflies slashed their patterned wings.

Perhaps the colour of the language, the use of it, fits the book – anyway it is certainly one to enjoy.

It is not for the faint of heart – dark, but also rather wondrous.

Enjoy.

I read a proof – so the cover probably isn’t that shown above. Though it might be – the proof had a black and white rendition of that one. So, just perhaps…

Due out February 2018

Published by Scholastic (January 2018)

This is a story about families. Sometimes parents get things wrong. Sometimes they bring new people into the family who shouldn’t be there. This is a story of a young boy being brought up by his mother who decides that the man she hoped would become a loving husband and father, isn’t what he should be.

Her solution is to leave and to stay in a house that her new partner doesn’t know about. It is rather dilapidated, however, Nate realises that for the first time in ages,  his mother is happy. She’s singing again. Then when she doesn’t return from a brief shopping trip, Nate is surprised when an old friend materialises…

This is a touching story dealing with a serious subject in a very careful way. It certainly wouldn’t be for everyone. There is no direct physical violence, but it does cover psychological and the feeling of tenseness in the air.

The above illustration is from Garden Lovers Club – Mason Jar Light (with thanks, its just right for this) – as a light jar is a pivotal point in the story.

Published in the UK by Macmillan Children’s books, in the US, by Scholastic

I read the proofs publishers send me without reading their blub. This is essentially to ensure that I don’t start a story with any preconceived ideas. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised (a cover can be very misleading), sometimes disappointed.

I read this proof over 24 hours or so. It had a rather simple cover, just a drawing of a skeletal hand reaching up towards the night sky. Simple and effective.

The story reminded me a little of Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls. It left me in tears at work as I read the last few pages. Then again, I am a bit of an emotional wreck at the moment, post Pakka. That said, it is beautifully written and quite superb and as I explained to a mother and daughter recently, sometimes books that make you cry are the best books and shouldn’t be avoided.

Enjoy this, simply and beautifully written story of life and everything that goes with that – and if you haven’t read A Monster Calls read that too…

Sadly Kim Ventrella lives in Oklahoma City and so isn’t available for events…it would be superb if she were…. Looking for pictures of the cover, I came across the one above which is ‘connected’ (I don’t know what the correct term is) to Kim’s Internet site – I assume the dog is hers…he looks rather lovely. The cover above is the one Scholastic are using for their American edition of the book – to be honest I hope ours is similar to the design on my proof – more in tune with story…with a hint of darkness…

The Macmillan edition is out on the 21st of September 2017

Published by Scholastic

This is a charming, unique fairy tale. Alberto lives in a village,  where flying fish soar out of the sea, and the houses are brightly coloured. The only fisherman in the area is laughed at, after all what use is a fisherman, when fish regularly fall from the sky? Alberto though is a carpenter and spends his time making toys for his three children and household furniture to sell. It is a happy house, until things change, as they do in fairy tales and a sickness arrives at the bottom of the hill.

This is a small volume. The proof is printed in blue, with small illustrations that decorate each page. It is to be published in paperback, and I hope that Scholastic will make sure that the production reflects the appeal of the story.

The above illustration depicts the cover of the proof – which as those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know, quite often doesn’t reflect the end result – but it might give a little indication of how the book might look once it has been published. Which my proof states will be in May. Though often that too changes. Keep an eye out for this one though – a story of the traditional variety…

I have been asked to review my last post about this small volume by a customer who has direct experience of the subject; her son, born a daughter. He expressed his belief from a very early age and so, I have made a note that it should be within the 9 – 12 age group.

The use of the correct pronoun for suffers is important – and within this story, though initially confusing for those of us who haven’t come across sexual dysphoria directly, is right and proper – and not just a device.

This is an important volume – it is not a subject that is covered in fiction for children, it is a unique children’s book in my experience. As such may be of help to those who are affected by this.

Having looked on the NHS site dealing with sexual dysphoria, they suggest that anyone who has, or has a child who may be showing signs that they have it, that they should contact their GP who may well refer them on to a specialist Gender Identity Clinic.