Archives for posts with tag: Scholastic

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


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Published by Scholastic

Were you born in England?

Are you British Born?

Were you born in the UK?

Are you illegal?

Do you know anyone who is illegal

or are your friends all British Born?

Are you certain?

Is there someone you know who keeps themselves to themselves, doesn’t go out much?

The election is coming. 

The election that will decide everyone’s futures.

Those not British Born are no longer legal…but the results of the election,

may mean that ‘illegals’ will no longer be sent ‘home’.

Then again, they may mean the destruction of lives built over years,

lives of contribution, lives of production, of families and friendships.

This is a story of siblings. Of a party. Of friendship.

It is the story of murder.

How would 



In this year of the celebration of women’s rights,

this is perhaps an even more poignant book.

Its a story of deportation.

A story of rights.

The abuse of rights.

A book of love.

This is a story that reflects stories of people now.

People who are now wondering where they will be

next month,

next week,



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.


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

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…

kmpeyton-blind-beauty-cover-2-800-300x216Published by Scholastic

This is a wonderful story and should really be listed as a classic. This is the story of a young girl who’s father bred horses, but has since divorced his wife. She has gone on to marry her new husband, who is rich and runs his own stables, but without the passion and personal involvement that her x-husband put into his. Tessa’s new step father has money. Her father didn’t and doesn’t. Her stepfather doesn’t understand her and her mother now just infuriates her. This is the story of a family, of growing up, anger and frustration and the tale of a horse and dreams…It is probably my favourite ‘horse’ book for this age group. Black Beauty is rightly listed as a classic, but is so sad. This brings joy.

I should have written a post for this years ago, when I first read it. Then again, I didn’t have my blog. Apologies – another one I missed.

54738-large-gingerbread-housePublished by Scholastic Children’s Books –

Not yet Published – September 2016

Robyn Silver’s life is dull, torpid, and repetitive to say the least, however, having wished for a little excitement in her life she is astonished to find herself seeing things. Not very nice things either. Her large family are oblivious.

When her school is then demolished by trees uprooted which destroyed the roof, she and her fellow pupils find themselves being educated in a local large house, owned by a reclusive man who seems more than usually unwilling to have the school on his property.

Things combine to make her life a lot less dull – things liven up very quickly.

One piece of advice I will give following reading Robyn Silver The Midnight Chimes.

Never eat any gingerbread that is offered in a house made of sweets…

I read a proof – which of course means I have no idea of what the cover will be like – so decorated with gingerbread, which seems a suitable illustration for this book…




Published by Scholastic

Not yet Published June 2016

This is one of the most charming books I have read. Young Erica lives on her own whilst her uncle travels the world studying birds. He has been gone from home for around two years at the beginning of this small volume, and the money he has left for Erica to use, is getting a little low, which is a worry.

On Erica’s 10th birthday she opens her front door to find a rather confused pachyderm standing on her doorstep with a note attached stating that she has a Legal Right to the elephant. Feeling sorry for him she invites him inside…after all it can’t be good to be left on a doorstep without knowing who or why he has been left there.

Some damage is done to the door frame. More to the stairs and the bathroom, and Uncle Jeff’s bedroom also sustains some as the elephant takes up residency.

This is a beautiful story about friendship, bravery and practicality – it really is a wonderful little book, only 135 pages long, and there is a note in my proof to state it will be illustrated.

Due to be published on the 2nd of June, as a small hardback. I trust Scholastic will give it a good quality binding, such as one that the story deserves. Perhaps they might consider giving it a lovely dust jacket too.

I usually give away my proofs. This one I will keep, along with a copy of the finished volume. It is very special.

The cover doesn’t look to have been confirmed as yet, so I thought the above photograph of an elephant’s eye in such detail might give some indication of what it might be like to live in a small terraced house with a very large Indian elephant.




Published by Scholastic

Not yet Published at time of going to Post: March 2016

This reminded me of some of our relatively recent royal history. The story of Wallis Simpson, who married Prince Edward, the Duke of Windsor who had been King Edward the VIII and abdicated to be with her. His younger brother, unprepared took on the role of king in 1936.

As with King George VI, Alfie has been brought up, as the second son and doesn’t expect to rule, until circumstances vastly turn his world upside down. This was a wonderful jaunt – full of royal protocol and a great deal more. This is history with a good seasoning of fantasy – a brilliant adventure…




Published by Scholastic

Not yet published at time of going to post: October 2015

Foxes; those often solitary looking characters that sometimes trot across our paths – their lives on the edge of the world of people.

Their world cut through by roads, hunting, tragedy and death often just a whisker of a moment away.

This is the start of a gloriously detailed trilogy.
An extraordinary story from the author of The Tygrine Cat and The Tygrine Cat on the Run that was published a few years ago.

Once again Inbali sinks the reader into another world, subtly enticing us down into the story whilst developing our senses as we become entranced with another species…

Isla, a young fox cub is suddenly alone and frantically searches for her family, initially finding tantalising wafts of their scent, which disappear as they did. It is a story of adventure written by one of the most descriptive authors. Written in the first person Isla’s tale is written with colour and sensitivity and you cannot help but follow her search to try to find her family once more.

It’s a magical story by an author who isn’t given the recognition she should.

The second and third volumes are due out in October 2016 and 2017 –

Published by Scholastic / Not yet published at time of going to post – Advertised September 2015

An Egyptian flavoured school crime story with the almost required ancient mummy and curse. An amalgamation of elements of circus, boarding school, Enid Blyton type of adventure with friendship ultimately winning through. Great fun. A phrase from the old Scooby Doo cartoons sprang to mind at the end. First person, 8-9 years. Lovely cover on the proof. I hope the art work will be reflected in that of the finished published volume (particularly that of the scaraband the lettering on the back). Advertised as September 2015