Archives for posts with tag: Macmillan Publishing

Image result for swimming against the tide butterworth

Published by Orion Books

I have two siblings, both older than I. A sister and a brother. Both in their separate ways have (I think) at various times felt ‘responsible’ for me. I remember a skiing holiday – which was perhaps the best skiing holiday I have ever had. Not that I have had many, but it was special for so many reasons. A highlight was skiing between two valleys with my brother so I could para-glide down from one of the mountain ridges later that morning.

I hope I didn’t often worry them as Avery does in this book of mystery, sisterly love and alligators.

Avery and Eliza live in a fishing village in Louisiana. Their lives revolving around the seasons of shrimping and the rising waters. An area filled with birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and the legendary loup-garou. An area of storms. A place not to go after dark. Particularly with a possible hurricane on the way. Certainly not a place to disappear into, to trace strange footprints in the mud.

Atmospheric. Captivating and a story of siblings, friendships and bravery. A book for everyone. Jess Butterworth’s third book, perhaps her best…but that is for you to decide.



Published by Macmillan.

I have been a fan of Chris Riddell for many years. This is his latest picture book – published initially in hardback, though I am sure a paperback will be available in due course.

With a cut-out board and free end paper, this is rather a special book. With full page spread of pictures this tells a tale of Little Green Rain Cape – who

‘set off through the woods. She felt well prepared. She had…a strong straight stick, comfortable clumpy boots, and a backpack containing: a good book, breadcrumbs, a pair of clean socks and an invitation to a party. She was wearing her green rain cape.’





On her journey she meets: a wolf, a kindly old lady, a troll, a beast, a harp, three bears, a girl in a red cape, a songbird, a prince, three little pigs, seven dwarves and a witch… to name just a few of the numerous characters that bring this book to life. Those who are well read, will recognise many of them…

A picture book with more text than usual, for those who enjoy a good, long story. It is another wonderful book to add to my collection of picture books…of which I have, a few. Well, actually more than a few….








Image result for mirror magic claire fayers


Published by Macmillan

‘It’s better to be shaped by our kindness than our fears’

Two worlds separated by mirrors. Mirrors are strange things. Recently watching Flog It Trade Secrets (6 am M-F BBC 2) I was informed that you can check whether a mirror is old, by applying the tip of a pencil on it. If there is a little space between that and its mirror image, then it is an older piece. If they meet, it is a modern mirror. I haven’t tried this yet – and I have been wondering why this would be the case. Where is the reflection? What makes it? They are fascinating.

Of course there is the famous ‘mirror’ book by Lewis Carroll – Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there, which was published in the 1871 a few years after Alice in Wonderland. This though, is a thoroughly modern story. 

This is the story of two towns. Wyse and the magical town of Unworld.

There’s a covenant between the two worlds, and people can move from one to the other, when invited.  Except some of these mirrors are failing, and are no longer portals. Things are changing and not for the better.

The book is full of somewhat eccentric characters, enchantments, skeletons, traitors and a book – a book that can foretell the future; sentient and full of opinions. Ava meets Howell, on the other side of a mirror, and they begin an adventure to find out about why the magical mirrors are no longer working.

This is a new title by Claire Fayers – she has written three others, but this is perhaps the darkest.  The cover doesn’t, I think reflect this – a book of evil doings if there ever was one…

Published by Macmillan (February 2018)

Friendship. How far does friendship take you? Should you ever break a promise? Do we really listen to our friends? Do we take the time to join the dots and see what might be happening beneath the surface?

Bonnie, is a straight A student. Dedicated, organised and sensible. Her friend Eden, however, isn’t – but they fit one another. Support each other and when a promise is made, its kept.

When a friend, ‘goes off the rails’, it can be difficult to work out what caused it and what is happening.  So when the school’s music teacher becomes overly involved with one of the girls, the repercussions and results are wide ranging and distressing.

There are enormous pressures being a teenager. Social and academic – to do well in exams is to be successful. It doesn’t always follow. There is more to life than exam results – they don’t make you happy, however, as I said to a young boy today, who is obviously the apple of his mother’s eye – they do give you choices, and that can make you happy.

This story is about love, friendship, self belief, confidence and a mistake – a belief that one thing will make everything else fall into place. The trouble is happiness is made up of lots of things at the same time. Safety. Love. Security. Settled financial circumstances and a meeting of minds. It is rare for one thing to bring happiness – its a mixture of circumstance.

What is love? How do you know, that what you feel is the ‘real’ thing? How do you really know about the person you love?

This is a complicated, and yet simple story of hopes, dreams, love and friendship.


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 Macmillan Children’s Books.

I recently organised a school event for Elizabeth Laird and at the end one of the boys asked Elizabeth Laird which was her favourite book, that she had written. It was obviously a very difficult question; her reply much the same as many parents’ – she loves them all, however, she did go on to say that the character Ben, in the story, was based around her younger brother, and so perhaps, if pushed this is her favourite.

This is the story of Anna’s family – her Mum, Dad, little sister, Katy and their new baby brother Ben. It is a tale of growing up, of accepting responsibilities, of acknowledging who you are, and who other people are too – along with realising that love comes in many forms and ways. It is a story of a family dealing with someone special, who though severely disabled, has a massive impact on the family.  Sometimes in a good way, and at other times taking all the attention.

The preface explains just a little about Elizabeth’s relationship with her brother Alistair – the positives and the negatives. Superb.


Published by Macmillan Children’s Books.  I thought I would start this post with a quote from the book.

‘I’ve got a time-out card.’ I say this almost under my breath, turning away so that the only people who can hear me are the teacher and Tabassum. It’s not a state secret, but my parents seem to think life will be easier if my Asperger’s is on the need-to-know basis. I’m not sure it works, but nobody bothered to ask me….

I knew this would happen when Miss Young laminated this time-out card. Half the teachers are terrified in case I start climbing on the tables or setting fire to the desks….’

Grace’s father travels… He works on television, producing natural history programmes. Often he is away for months. Grace’s mother on the other hand is making sure that everything runs properly at home & that the ‘situation’ that is Grace, is being taken seriously. Leah her younger sister observes all this with a wry look on life that made me laugh as I read this wonderful tale of a family being a family – with all the challenges that brings and a few extra on top.

It is superb.

The illustration above is one of Edward Gorey’s pictures – I am a fan of his work (see the Gashlycrumb Tinies post) – and since there isn’t a reasonable picture of the proof, let alone the cover to be used for this book – I thought I would use this…as a sort of stand in for an image.

The proof states that The State of Grace is due to be published on the 6th of April 2017



Published by Macmillan January 2017

I hope that Macmillan will publish this book in such a way that it looks as though it has been covered by a hoar frost. This is the story of the turning of the seasons, the power of Autumn, of frost, and the power of Spring and of nature itself. It is a remarkable and wonderful tale of trickery, death, hope and of friendship. It is the tale of spirits, of life itself. I loved this. There are some aspects that are similar to the Percy Jackson series (Rick Riordan) – however, I prefer this – a more elemental story, darker in some ways and something I can really relate to having walked my estate this morning through a hoar frost; the grass a pale green, crunchy under foot.

This book should give the designers at Macmillan a chance to really make something of it. The proof I read had a lovely owl on the cover, but not quite the owl that I would have chosen. It does not depict the dark side as much as it should and there is little or no frost – just some snow like designs dotted around the bird of prey. I have searched the Internet in my usual way to give you a picture of what the actual published book will look like – and the above seems to be the design that Macmillan are using.

I’m afraid, I hope this isn’t the case.

Whilst owls are important in the story, surely this book is about frost, that spiky extraordinary stuff that makes designs on metal, leaves, grass and water… Some while ago I wrote a post on this blog about rime – the patterns found on cars – perhaps Macmillan can find something of the sort to make this volume really stand out – it certainly deserves something of the sort. Something that makes you think it will be cold to the touch – not shinny – cold… We will see what they can do! The pictures below are copies of those I took early one morning of the ice patterns on the tops of cars… I would be very happy for them to be used for this volume…

2014 Mobile Pictures Car Frost 011

2014 Mobile Pictures Car Frost 022

2014 Mobile Pictures Car Frost 013

2014 Mobile Pictures Car Frost 020


Published by Macmillan January 2017

Elizabeth Laird has always written gripping tales based more often than not on facts she has gathered to give substance and reality to her stories.

This volume is no exception. This is the story of Omar and his family, the story of the Syrian refugee crisis and it is the story of people. It is pure luck that I live in a society that at the moment allows me some freedom of speech. Certainly more than many others. I write a blog about children’s books. I have the freedom to write what I like. I go to work where  I encourage children to read, to think about their society whilst doing so – about what is right, wrong and the responsibilities we have to  one another. My sister trained as a doctor and became a consultant – our circumstances could and would have been so different if we had just lived somewhere else. This is a story of a family whose life is the other side of the coin. Omar at the beginning of the book dreams of selling postcards; enough postcards so that he can perhaps purchase a donkey. Then a whole herd. He is bright, not in a school sense perhaps, but with common sense and with the habit of working hard as a back bone to his beliefs. When things change dramatically in Syria, those dreams are quickly and irrevocably destroyed.

This is a story of immense bravery and hardship and is a tale of those whose lives this Christmas aren’t like ours. I wonder how my family would have survived. If I am honest, I am not sure we would have. There are many books being published about dystopian societies – many extreme examples. This small volume’s story, however, is more poignant and has more impact than they have.

Everyone should read this. Should you purchase a copy of the hardback of this book, (and at just £9.99 there is no reason why you shouldn’t) 50pence from that sale will go to an international agency supporting the Syrian refugee crisis. Not much, perhaps, but every little counts.

Elizabeth Laird is an author who choses stories that are often edgy and strong.. They are often based in fact and deal with issues most of us will never have to face and often would prefer not to acknowledge. This book is a must read. If you purchase no other book in 2017,  (which I admit is unlikely), but should that be the case, then it should be this one.

A moving and extraordinary tale of bravery, resilience and families.

Her last comment is to propose that we might wonder what happens next to Omar and his family after the end of the story. She observes that that is down to us.

Other titles she has written include: The Garbage King, The Prince who Walked with Lions, Oranges in No Man’s Land, Red Sky in the Morning and Kiss the Dust.

Image result for accidental pirates voyage

Published by Macmillan Publishing

This is a fun roller-coaster of an adventure. Three years before the story begins Brine was found floating in a rowing boat without knowing her name or where she came from. Since then she has been working for Tallis Magus – keeping the house clean, cooking, & washing his rather revolting socks whilst trying to avoid him and spending as much time in his library as she is able to do.

The third occupant of this house is Peter, a young fisherman’s son, who Tallis Magus is attempting to teach the rudiments of magic. So far he doesn’t show much potential.

When Tallis Magus plans to send Brine off to work with the island’s miser, to look after his house, incidentally much larger than his, and without a library, Brine is determined to do something about it. The fact that Peter too is about to have his life turned upside down (it is proposed that Peter should marry the daughter, who would then come and live with Tallis Magus), means that the two of them start to plan to escape together and this is the story of this rather buccaneering tale.

This is superb story of sunken galleons, treasure, evil and a most powerful magician, message carrying seagulls, (well you wouldn’t use pigeons at sea, would you?) a lovely ship’s cat and a plethora of other characters…

It is a tale of revenge…and contains, perhaps, the end of all stories…

Meanwhile do remember to buy a copy of this and sink yourself into a pirate-icle (I think I have just invented that word) adventure….