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 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.


Published by the Private Libraries Association.

For publication early 2018.

This will be a two volume account of the early private presses that were active in the British Isles in the 18th and 19th centuries. It will not include the Kelmscott and Eragny Presses – which have already been comprehensively covered elsewhere.

This publication will, however, include details of presses worked from domestic premises; where the press was worked at home, or in some cases within a school. It does not include commercial enterprises.

There will be up to a hundred reproductions along with a bibliography of around 1,750 books and 850 pieces of ephemera printed at the presses.

The two volumes will be retail at £80, however, copies of the ordinary edition will be available for free for members of the Private Libraries Association, for those who are members for both 2017 & 2018. Membership costs £30 per annum (£15 for students up to 16 years of age) and can be applied for by writing to Jim Maslen (details below).

There will also be a special limited edition (100 copies) that will include c.12 specimen leaves taken from defective volumes of the presses. These will retail at around £170, not including postage. Orders may be placed by contacting David Chambers (details below).

The final prices have not yet been settled, however, provisional orders may be requested for the books and invoices will be sent out on publication.

Jim Maslen

29 Eden Drive, Hull HU8 8JQ (maslen’

David Chambers

Ravelston, South View Road, Pinner, Middlesex HA5 3YD (






Published by OUP

I always remember this book for three reasons. The first is that it is a very good story – the first that was published by this author. The second reason, because it is about a bird of prey and the third, because the title is a misnomer.

The story is brilliant, so much so I organised for a school to have an event based around the book. I love birds of prey and the book is a superb story about ospreys, and a nest that is found on a farm in Scotland…

When the author came to give her talk – which was filled with natural history and information about how the book came to be written, I asked her about the title. After all the book is about an osprey – an eagle, and not a hawk.

Oxford University Press’ decision to inaccurately (in my view) give the story this title has mystified me ever since. It is a good title. It should not, however, have been given to this book – there are many others it could have had.  So, this book is not about a hawk, it is about an eagle – and children who become bound into its story.

If you think birds of prey are extraordinary creatures or you love birds or wildlife and adventure, then this is the book for you.

Gill Lewis has written quite a number of books for this age group since this came out:

White Dolphin / Moon Bear / Scarlet Ibis / Gorilla Dawn / Sky Dancer (October / Hen Harriers).



This is a stunningly beautiful slim small volume. It contains a simple tale of a small group of people; adults, children and a dog.  Adrift in the sea in a boat. They don’t have much to share: their stories, a scarf, a scrap of food, the warmth and affection of an animal and a violin. The violinist, who couldn’t leave his instrument behind, plays some music and tells his story and that of the violin in his hands…

This is a book about freedom – hope and bravery.





Published by Macmillan

I am a fan of Chris Riddell. I have been for some time – he is extraordinarily talented (to a degree that makes me more than a little jealous), has a brilliant sense of humour and further, a sense of the absurdity, not to say horror of the world that we live in.

He is by turn a political cartoonist (Observer), a passionate believer in and campaigner for libraries and reading, he is the Children’s Laureate until the end of this year and can sketch a ‘Rarely seen six-toed Sloth’, within seconds of being set the challenge. I know this, because I set it, and have it framed on my wall.

I have a greater challenge for him, the next time I see him – I would like to see him sketch an aye-aye – they are such weird creatures, and so wonderful. I’d love to see how he goes about it…

That though is perhaps more about the man himself than this book – which is a celebration really of the work he did (and is doing, after all he still has six months to go) over the period of his Laureate-ship – if such a word exists.

It contains examples of everything you could imagine – the man’s work is prolific – political cartoons, characters from his books, and from famous stories too, his family, himself, of drawings and sketches of the world as it spins in its sometimes horrendous ways…

It is a snippet not only of his extraordinarily busy time over the last few years, but also of our lives too…

It is, in a way a coffee table book – one for dipping into. I would say one to enjoy when seated on the traditional throne, but it is too nice a book for that. Once picked up, you will want to flip to something else…and so on. A momentary drift into this volume turns into a half hour, when you should, as I, be hanging out washing, or hovering the house….



Published by Buster Books (Michael O’Mara Books Ltd)

This is a small, but important book. It is just 183mm square, and just 34 pages long. I feel it is a book that should be given to all politicians – all heads of religion (apologies, there is probably a ‘proper’ word for those ladies and gentleman), teachers…managers…trade unions…and I suppose parent’s too. It should be given to everyone who has power to remind them of our often hard won freedoms.

I am sometimes amazed by what people believe is their right – which is sometimes confused with what they would like, even if all the indications are that they would probably be better off accepting what has happened, and moving on. This may be contentious – but I believe we should be looking out for each other – irrespective of creed, colour or what ever we are – whether animal, vegetable or mineral… and perhaps thinking about other people first.

We need to start to look out for one another – the old adage – do what you would be done by, seems to have disappeared. Respect and an understanding of our freedoms – of everyone’s freedoms seems not to be important any more.

Perhaps we should be slowing down and not going so fast – taking the time to see one another as we are…to learn from one another….to accept that we are all different with different ideas, and that is all right. That some are better at some things, and some at others – but we all have a value.

This book is a reminder of our responsibility to each other, as well as to the world we live in. In Chris’ introduction he states the following.

We all want a good life, to have fun, to be safe and happy and fulfilled. For this to happen we need to look after each other. In this book there are sixteen different freedoms that help look after us. They are truly wonderful, precious things. these freedoms were created to protect us, forever. We need to stand up for them and look after them just as they look after us.

My favourite is Thought – We all have the right to the information we need to make up our own minds. We have the right to say what we think and share ideas with other people.

The illustration is of a girl of just that age (when they know everything) …striding forth with her nose firmly in a book with a fox bounding beside her.

I would happily pay more in my taxes for those members of parliament who are supposedly running this green and pleasant land to have a copy.




Published by Harper Collins and various others…

Today, a great author has died, aged 91. Michael Bond wrote extraordinarily good books. The most well known are of course the books about Paddington Bear (from Darkest Peru). He also wrote a wonderful series of books about a guinea-pig: opinionated and full of character and he wrote others about a mouse called Thursday. This is by no means a comprehensive list of his books…there are others – do look them up on Fantastic Fiction.

Paddington has become an institution. I grew up with Peggy Fortnum’s illustrations (I still think they are the best) and the original television series. More recently there have been new titles, and some of the old stories have been abridged and illustrated by someone called RW Alley. I’m afraid I always feel that those are of a different bear, perhaps Paddington’s cousin, pretending to be Paddington. Peggy Fortnum’s pictures really are the original, and…the best. More recently ‘they’ have made a new series about him on television and of course there was that film about him.

I am told that younger readers prefer the picture books as an introduction. Does he need one?  I’m of the opinion that this isn’t necessary – when readers are ready for Paddington, they should have ‘the real thing’ – and not be presented with something less…but that is just my opinion – and the world would be a very boring place if we all agreed….

The Olga Da Polga books were a brilliant series for me. Her adventures with Noel the cat, Graham the tortoise, Fangio a hedgehog (who encourages Olga to visit the Elysian Fields), two hamsters and Venables the local toad are wonderful, written in the same beautiful style as Paddington, clear and with good English. Not so well known, and different, but I will never forget Olga’s affair with Boris, who lived in a castle and with whom she had a family…I remember the photograph of them fell into her water bowl….

Then there was the small series, which started with Here Comes Thursday – an adventure series about a mouse and his friends, that I remember with affection.

I am sad at Michael Bond’s parting – he has given me great joy, and I wish I had met him, so I could tell him of the pleasure his writing has given me over the years.

He was, I think one of the great writers. He seemed a quiet man, from an age, when things were better. I never met him, but from what I have read and heard, he was a gentleman in an era where gentleness seems to be disregarded. Perhaps it is better for him to have gone as he has.

If you haven’t read the Paddington books, because your parent’s were busy doing other things and not buying you the books they should, or you missed Olga Da Polga, then you should buy them as individual volumes and take a little to appreciate the quality and the charm of this author’s writing. Each chapter is a story within itself – so there is no need to worry. Just enjoy each as a little piece of joy whilst enjoying a small, or large pile of marmalade sandwiches.

There were 9 original Paddington volumes ( the first is A Bear Called Paddington) and around two dozen Olga da Polga books. All can be purchased easily. Some of the Paddington books have been bound up into a single volume…with Peggy Fortnum’s illustrations – coloured in a slip case. Olga Da Polga can be bought in paperback editions.

If you feel that buying a set of Paddington or Olga da Polga is beyond your means, you can, of course buy A Bear Called Paddington with Peggy Fortnum’s illustrations in hardback (ISBN 9780007528622) which would be a lovely way to commemorate this author. You can also purchase The tales of Olga Da Polga, illustrated by Catherine Rayner. Also in hardback (ISBN 9780192737410) – Catherine Rayner is not the original illustrator – but her pictures are charming in themselves, and you can’t get hardbacks of the original editions of The Tales of Olga Da Polga.

Why hardbacks? They last longer.

Then again, you could just buy the paperback books individually over time. Perhaps having a day out and a picnic with marmalade sandwiches as you read each book.

Ps. There are some wonderful audio books of Paddington, read by Stephen Fry…





Published by Bloomsbury

This was wonderful – I loved it. Not least as it takes you back to another era. A better time, a period of stiff upper lips and honour. This is a brilliant story of the old style with gorgeous language:

“…almost squeezed the pip out of poor Sponge here…”

“…frightfully dangerous…”

“…Mildew’s southern most lip began to quiver…”

“…Mildew’s upper lip began to lose some of its structural integrity…”

Along with the two main characters being named Mildew and Sponge.

What more could you want or need or indeed expect to have? Well, it seems you can have a lot more for your money –

A book of mysterious ghosts, Vikings, Romans, werewolves, a time machine….a school with a cloister, with extraordinary school teachers who are remarkable in themselves…adventure and it will be stuffed with illustrations. I know this to be true, because my proof has little boxes set within the text to give an indication of where they will be when the book is published. They have also said that Chris Priestley wrote it and that it will be illustrated by him. They have printed that on the cover of the proof. So there!

The only problem is, I’m afraid is that it hasn’t been published yet – but they state on the inside cover that you will be able to buy copies on the 5th of October, which I believe is a Thursday. A good day on which to buy a new book – this one will be perfect. Funny, full of interest, good English (for those of you who know this to matter)….a wonderful book on so many fronts.

Put Thursday the 5th of October in your diary.

As sometimes happens when I have read a book before its published, the cover has not been put on the Internet yet. I have found though the above sketches of the Werewolf Boy – so that will have to do.

Ps. Sorry, I forgot to say – this is the start of a series…and also that Chris Priestley is an author to ‘follow’ – he also wrote Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror – which are brilliant. Slightly surprised I have never done a post about that volume…I suppose I read it before I had this blog – buy that too – and you can buy it now – its already published.





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…