Archives for category: Usborne

Image result for jemima small versus the universe

Published by Usborne





This is a story of comparisons. Those we make ourselves and those others make about us.

Jemima Small is larger than life.

She is larger than life, than average, in many things.

She’s funny, bright (very bright) and kind.

She is also larger than average, physically.

Which can make her feel like nothing at all. Of no importance. Of no use. It has been a gradual thing – incremental and a slow transition and it colours her life.

There are things she does and things she doesn’t do because she is deemed to be different. She doesn’t accept challenges which would mean she has to stand up and be someone, as no-one would want to see someone like her representing the school…

Jemima is, however, intelligent. Clever and knows all sorts of things that other people don’t.

We are all made of star dust.

Who we are is not what we look like.

We are all so much more than that.




Published by Usborne

This is a MUST buy.

It is superb. A development of the Pied Piper of Hamelyn – full of character, magic, adventure, rats and dragons too!

There are numerous versions of the Pied Piper of Hamelyn – the earliest from around 1300 – Some relate that the Piper returned the children after payment was, at last, paid. Others state that they were taken to drown in a local river. That one child got left behind as it was lame, and couldn’t keep up, that three were – one lame, one blind and the last was deaf. An ancient legend then, with some stature – they think it was probably about the plague or perhaps depicting some sort of emigration, maybe the Children’s Crusades. No-one really knows.

No-one knows either about what happened to the Pied Piper after the events so luridly told. What happened to him? This enlarges, colours and makes a whole new legend to enjoy. It is brilliant and must be read by old and young alike. I don’t care whether you are an adult, or a child – this is a MUST buy. After all some adults are more child-like, and some children are more adult-like. So whatever your age – buy or get someone else to buy you a copy of this brilliant story.

This is the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelyn with meat on – something to really get your teeth into. A ‘proper’ book…

For FOS there are copies (or were a few days ago) – on Sue’s Selection – at Finchley Road O2 – so you can get copies there.

I wish someone had designed a GIF for this book – perhaps someone will. I wouldn’t know how to start. This is taken from The Medievalists web site…

Earliest depiction of the Pied piper

NB – Finished this today (I have been reading four books at once – never wise) – and I am so excited – THERE’S MORE TO COME – this is the start of a series…well at least two…perhaps three….we will have to see! Marvellous!


Image result for the house with chicken legs

Published by Usborne

This reminded me of Diana Wynne Jones’ book Howl’s Moving Castle – after all there aren’t many buildings that move about in literature and I certainly recommend both.

A tale with a Gothic flavour – a young girl is in training. She lives a life almost alone, with just her grandmother as a human companion, and she is never allowed to move far from the sentient house, the house with chicken legs, which keeps an careful eye on her. Her only friend is a jackdaw – however, Marinka dreams of changing her destiny. She doesn’t want to follow her Grandmother and continue her life and help the dead. She wants her own, and she wants to have friends, live friends who aren’t just there for one evening -before they move through to the world beyond.

Clever, well written, and a story of dreams and hopes…marvellous.

Enjoy it!

Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd.

A book of hopes and dreams. Dreams that are so much greater than the dreamer. This is about football on the streets of Jakarta, Indonesia.

Games played by boys in the streets with anything that moves when kicked and, if they are lucky, boots that look similar to those used by professional players.

Boots that look similar.

Millions of boots.  The use of a rattan stick. Of underdogs – it is a harsh story, but one that is repeated all over the world in one form or another – the end links of a world driven by money and greed.

It is a story of friendship, bravery, families, a story of football, and so much more.

An extraordinary debut novel.

Image result for a place called perfection duggan

Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd

This is a story of perfection. An uprising. Rose tinted glasses….Jealousy. Families. Tea. Orphans. It is the story of the three Archer brothers, bravery and of course, good old fashioned adventure. It starts with Violet’s family moving to the town of Perfection and a boy who she can’t see who laughs at her as she runs into their new house. When at last they meet she finds that he is called ‘Boy’ and has no parents at all.

I like tea. Personally I have never liked flavoured tea. I like tea to taste of tea and not of something else. This book rather backs my view. There is nothing like a good cup of English Builders’ or Kenyan tea. If I found my favourite brew should suddenly taste of vanilla and orange, I would be very suspicious. Those who like tea that is flavoured, however, would perhaps be beguiled….

Boy’s and Violet’s adventures become intricate and compelling. Violet’s father has disappeared. Her mother has started to bake cakes, and isn’t really sure about her daughter any more. For that matter nor is Violet sure of her mother. Boy too has questions. What happened to his parents? Why was he left at the orphanage? What is his history…

Perfection sometimes, isn’t everything it is held up to be. Sometimes normality is better. After all who can say what perfection is? Mine certainly wouldn’t be yours, I’m sure…Imperfection or differences should be celebrated…

At the end of it all, it seems it’s not. That is, The End.  After all, what did happen to Edward Archer?

There will be more.


Published by Usborne Books

I believe that books that result in an emotional response, are the good books. The books that make the reader worry about the characters, the books that make you cry.

This a story with many threads / ribbons running through it. Essentially it is the story of a young girl whose family ‘doesn’t do normal’. Her brother is sick, and she suffers from Selective Mutism (SM), which powerfully affects her life. It is also about the good and the bad that is the Internet. It is about communication in all its forms, (word of mouth, written and social media), a story of sibling love, about super powers, and friendship.

I finished it this morning, lying on my bed (it was very hot last night) when I should have been up and getting organised. I cried. This is one of those good books, those good books that are so much more than the single ribbons or threads that run through them. I also laughed –

She said, “Bernard is having a difficult day too, dear,” and we both looked down at Bernard rolling around with one of her fluffy slippers. She tutted, shook her head and said, “He’s sex-mad that cat. I’ll get you one of my current buns, dear.”

Read it and cry…


Published by Usborne

I am regularly asked to find scary books for young gentlemen who visit the store. This can be a difficult request to fulfil. Many of the young adult books are certainly not suitable for 9 – 12 years, whether because of language, plot or because they are fundamentally not just not appropriate.

This has a wonderfully creepy and scary cover with a young Victorian girl and boy, a mummified cat (part unwrapped) and of course a depiction of a mummy leaning over the title towards them.

The book is set in that ‘wonderful’ period when the Victorians were returning home from their travels with Egyptian artefacts, which they then either kept in their private museums. The Egyptian mummies suffered further indignities, not to say sacrilege. It became the fashion to hold events where the bodies were unwrapped in front of guests who came to see the performance.   The idea that an Egyptian from Ancient Egypt might object to this – seems to have been ignored. I have often thought that they would have preferred to have been left in the sands…but there you go.

Andrew Beasley has taken this idea and developed the story from that – and it’s a very good, beautifully scary volume – with a little more edge than is usual.

There were one or two wonderful vignettes one relates to a ruffian named Tosher, who’s method of keeping body and soul together is by masquerading as a lady selling beauty products. When our hero starts to ask him some questions, there is this rather wonderful passage:

Tosher shrugged his broad shoulders and reached down into the front of his dress. He pulled out an apple, leaving his chest oddly lopsided. He took a bite. “Want one?” he asked. “I’ve got a spare.”

The heroine, a youngster who has had polio and moves around mainly with a wheel chair is feisty and a brilliant. She has been educated as a young lady. His education has come from the back streets.

I am pleased to note an advertisement for S.C.R.E.A.M. The Carnival of Monsters in the back of the book, which is also due to be published, if it hasn’t already – I am certain a brilliant companion volume to this.

Adam Beasley also wrote the Ben Kingdom Trilogy, (The Battles of Ben Kingdom: The Claws of Evil, The Feast of Ravens and The City of Fear) also set in Victorian times – which I thought were brilliant. He is obviously an author to watch and to follow.

Published by Usborne

This a steam-punk of a book! A real joy to read – and I’m loving it. It starts with three stories, slowly being woven together, that of Lily at the beginning of the book, unhappy in a finishing school, and after her Dad goes missing she finds herself under the care of his housekeeper who is not to be trusted… Then there is Robert, the clockmaker’s son, taught by his father to mend anything that is broken, brave and resourceful, especially when it matters and lastly Malkin a sentient and rather glorious character, a fox made of cogs and wheels.

This is set in London in 1896. Servants are mechanicals, known for not having feelings, the objects of derision. If left too long without attention mechanicals can wind-down, to stand stationary – until metal fatigue takes them.

This is glorious – I have only read a third of it – and can’t put it down.

It is something special for the summer.

As I can’t seem to get the cover to import, or whatever the word is, I did some more investigating at home (this post was written in my lunch hour) and found the above – a part illustration from it. As a bonus it seems to be moving. Taken from Peter Bunzl’s site – amazing…if it will continue to work after I have saved it, I will be so pleased…a brilliant illustration for a brilliant book. We will see….the cover is superb…



Published by Usborne

This book is about two brothers, their father, their mother, friends, and a snail. Beckett’s father suddenly up-sticks and takes Becket and his young brother Billy away to live in a flat – leaving everything behind, including their ‘second-Mum’, Pearl.

Becket never said goodbye to his Mum when she went to hospital to have Billy and never came home with him and there is no way that he is going to leave Pearl too, without saying goodbye.

Funny and touching, this is a book really about the fact the parent’s are people too – and sometimes for the best of reasons they can get things almost astronomically wrong.

It is also about paper cranes, a rubber band bracelet and of course the snail, called Brian…an interesting character in his own right.

I sell books in Waterstone’s Finchley Road, and hope to celebrate this marvellous book with some paper crane bookmarks – which I am in the process of making. If I manage to make them – they will be given out to customers who buy the book, whilst the flock of birds I make last…one for each copy of the book sold. Also, I can’t promise that they will be anything like as good as those depicted in this picture.

If I don’t manage to make them – please accept my apologies – paper cranes are not as easy as they should be to make…

but I will persevere!

Published by Usborne / ISBN 978 1409507673

Without doubt this is my favourite noisy book. Usborne really have become expert at these. They seem to source their sounds directly from life – at least it seems so. Their See Inside series of books cover a very wide range of subjects all of which are very good and they seem to do two versions of each title. Plain with flaps or the same book, but with buttons attached to the side. Their noisy books are, as I have said, very nearly perfect. This one though, trumps them all.

The button that gives me most pleasure is the third one down on the left hand column. Each button has an image taken from the book on it (so they fit with the content of the book)  – this one – yes the one in red, has an image, of a pirate firing two pistols – sadly I can’t get a clearer picture. Nor have I been able to either find a sound that I can ‘copy’ onto this post, even if I knew how to do it. If and when I find out – I will insert it as soon as I can. Hopefully so that the sound is activated as soon as the post is opened…

Press the button on the book and you have a very good rendition of two pistols being fired in quick succession. Then, just as you assume that to be ‘it’ – suddenly there is a very life like cry of agony…