waiting on wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday – The Extinction Trials by S. M. Wilson.

Untitled designSynopsis –

Betrayal. Sacrifice. Survival. Welcome to The Extinction Trials…51f6k1a6jel-_sx326_bo1204203200_

In Stormchaser and Lincoln’s ruined world, the only way to survive is to risk everything. To face a contest more dangerous than anyone can imagine. And they will do anything to win.

But in a land full of monsters – human and reptilian – they can’t afford to trust anyone. Perhaps not even each other…

breakbird

Why I can’t wait to read The Extiction Trials –

 

  • The opening chapter sets the story in an overpopulated world. Overpopulation is one of the greatest dangers facing our planet, and it is something we need to talk about. The other evening on television, I watched an eminent scientist explaining that the human species will need to find another habitable planet within 100 years if it is to survive. The programme went on to discuss the practicalities of this, but totally skipped over the ethics. Should we destroy another planet? Haven’t we destroyed enough? Not everybody would be saved. These are the questions which interest me, and which young readers need to think about. The ethical conflicts. In conflict lies story.

 

  • It’s great to see dinosaurs marketed at YA. It’s strange, isn’t it, that we want small children to know about dinosaurs, but by the teenage market, dinosaurs seem to be niche. Geeky. Every small child I have ever known has owned plastic dinosaurs, and books. Maybe a t-shirt. It is time that interest was made attractive to teenagers.

 

  • Dinos in a dystopian future? Bring it on. It is nice to see a setting work with the unexpected. It makes the first part of the book more interesting as a reader, figuring the rules of a totally unique world.

 

  • I want to know whether Stormchaser and Lincoln stick together. If they turn against each other, what brings them back together? What is (possibly) bigger and more important than their own survival? I’m already interested, given the dystopian setting, to know what the pair will learn about their world.

 

  • Zoe at No Safer Place gave this a rave review.I was interested by what to she made of comparisons to the Hunger Games, (and turn your nose up if you will, but I think there is lots to love about THG. Team Peeta, if you’re interested.)

 

The Extinction Trials

S.M. Wilson

January 2018

 

 

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Seasonal Picks

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Having written about some of the releases I am looking forward to recently, I thought it would be fun to focus my list for Top Ten Tuesday, the fantastic meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. The books on this list are from my TBR pile, but they are particularly seasonal books. 

I’m sure people do read about warm beaches in the middle of winter, but we all know there is something about autumn which makes us reach for stories about witches and ghouls and forest witches. I know it, you know it, and humanity has known it for centuries. All that Samhain, stuff. Imagination starts with what we see around us, and what we see at this time of year is darkness closing in, and the end of the life-cycle.

Winter fiction used to be predictable, if you ask me, but recently it has come into its own. Last year’s Winter Magic anthology was sublime, and some of the contributors have seasonal stories published separately this year. 

 

Whenever I click my thumbs

 

 

Vlad the World’s Worst Vampire by Anna Wilson – Vlad is a shy vampire, who wants to fit in at human school. How will he keep his identity a secret? As well as being a great read for Halloween, the September release ties in nicely for little vampires off to a new school, or worried about a return to school after the freedom of the summer hols. 

Curse Of The Werewolf Boy by Chris Priestly – Priestly has a reputation for the dark and ghoulish. This is the start of a new series for MG readers called Maudlin towers, about a pair of detectives at a spectacularly creepy school. A ghost in the attic? A bunch of crazed Vikings? What starts with a hum-drum case of a missing school spoon leads to adventure, as secrets come creeping out of the dark. 

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell – A boy wizard and a girl warrior have been taught to hate each other from birth. The hugely anticipated first in a new series from How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell looks like one to read by firelight. 

The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders – There’s a place where broken toys go, the Land of Neverendings, where they live on past their life on Earth. One day, the door between the worlds is left open. An exploration of grief from the magical Kate Saunders. 

A Pocketful Of Crows by Joanne Harris – Love drew her into the human world, the world of tamed things. Only revenge will set her free. Based on the words of Child Ballad 295, this is a story of folklore and nature, love and revenge. 

 

When the Frost Lay Round About

 

Wish Upon A Snowflake (various) – After the huge success of last year’s middle grade anthology, Winter Magic, it is lovely to see another anthology, especially one geared towards younger middle grade readers. This offering from Stripes Publishing includes offerings from authors including Jeanne Willis, Holly Webb and Linda Chapman

A Kitten Called Holly by Helen Peters – Evie’s Ghost was a favourite spring release, and I have just finished The Secret Henhouse Theatre. Peters writes beautiful coutryside settings, and I am pleased to see her name on the Christmas fiction list. 

The Polar Bear Explorers Club by Alex Bell – regualr readers of my blog know how much I am looking forward to this enchanted wonderland of a story. I practically have a count-down set. 

The Snow Angel by Lauren St John – Did it say TBR. I cheat. Another which regualr readers are now familiar with, but I can’t stress enough how much of a heart this story has. Did I say frost? Maybe in the Highland setting of the second half, but the first part of the story is set in Kenya. This story will have you reaching for the tissues, and believing there is hope in every situation. 

Prisoner of Ice And Snow by Ruth Lauren – One which my friend Amy assures me is outstanding. Valor gets herself thrown into terrible fortress of Demidova in order to break her little sister out. 

Chat · Days Out

September Staycation #2 – Sweet-toothed Trail

You’ve heard of Grasmere Gingerbread and Kendal Mint Cake. Maybe you’ve heard of Cartmel sticky toffee pudding. I live in a region of sweet-toothed treats, which is apposite. I am Queen Sweet-Tooth. It’s a wonder they’re not rotten! Anyway, what you didn’t know is that Kendal Mint Cake is just the tip of the sugary ice-berg, and that actually, it’s not only the Lake District which produces famously fantastic treats. It’s not only Cumbria. It’s the entire border reigon. 

When we lived in London, me and my parents would spend a week’s holiday in a barn outside of Appleby. Our holidays were planned around food and walks – a convenient balance was achieved, and we ate everything from pub food to giant meringues and three-scoop ice-creams.

For our second staycation day, we chose to revisit some old holiday favourites. I was also on a mission to choose some treats for the top of my birthday cake next month. 

First stop was Appleby Bakery. You’ve seen Appleby-in-Westmoreland on the news. It’s that-place-with-the-horse-fair, except it is so much more. I love Appleby, and I especially love the Appleby bakery, with it’s pies and regional cheeses, and tray bakes. Most of all it’s tray bakes. Today I chose a picnic slice, which is basically a Hagrid-sized florentine. 

Ask nicely and I’ll share.

We moved from cake, into chocolate and ice-cream. Kennedy’s chocolate shop in Orton is a gem. Housed in an old school-house, you can see the chocolate being mixed and shaped in moulds behind the shop, and from windows in the cafe. 

The shop itself stocks every flavoured bar under the sun, all made on site. Selection IMG_2608boxes are family celebration staples – my favourite flavours are from the dessert range – butter fudge cream and Mississippi mud pie. You can get an idea of the selection here. Kennedy’s deliver through the post, and I can tell you from experience that the chocolates arrive safely. 

Savoury food as well as is sweet is available in the cafe, and there is a good range of food, including a menu of daily specials. It was nice to see local produce used, such as Lancashire cheese. 

Ice-Cream is also made on premises, and we enjoyed our ice-cream sundaes. I was particularly taken with the idea of serving in long, thin bowls. This enabled me to try different flavours together. As any serious sweet-tooth knows, ice-cream sundaes served in a cup tend to end up looking like poster paint mixed by a four year-old. 

Complimentary chocolate flowers came with the receipt; a cute touch, but if you haven’t come in for chocolate, I defy you to walk out without. One taste and I was sold. Peeking into the factory while lunch was being prepared was lovely. The opening to the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film? It’s not far off. They actually have sinks full of pure chocolate. Good job they keep the public separate. Full of sugar I might have been, but I would happily have stuck my head under and drunk it all up. 

IMG_2677The birthday cake mission was a success: great plans are afoot, and I’ll keep you updated. It’s not until October 13th, but one thing is certain. This year is going to be a very happy birthday. 

Young Adult Reviews

Review: The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington

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Extract:

In silence Marta scrutinised every inch of the emerald silk. In silence she held it up and shook and shimmered it.

‘How about that?’ she said eventually. ‘You can sew. Quite well too. I should know. I trained in all the very best places.’ 

She snapped her fingers for the blouse next. Rabbit-woman was so stiff with fear her hands could barely uncurl from their cloth. She noticed her terrible mistake with the sleeves at exactly the same moment Marta did. 

‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’ Rabbit panicked. ‘I know … the sleeves … the wrong way round … I can put them right .. I won’t do it again, I swear. Please let me stay.’

Marta’s voice was low and dangerous. ‘I told you how it it was … only room for one of you. Isn’t that right, schoolgirl?’

(The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington. P22.)

 

breakbirdSynopsis:

Birchwood. Birkenau. How can such a terrible place have such a gentle name?

Ella will do what it takes to survive. Work, keep working, or your name gets on a List. Keep food to yourself. Make it clear to other Stripeys that you won’t be picked on. Keep your head down in front of the guards.

At the age of 14, Ella is picked off the streets and taken to a labour prison camp. The only reason she isn’t killed straight out is her height. She survives longer because of her ability to sew. The commandant’s wife sets up a dress room, so that the guard’s wives can dress in the latest fashions, and Ella’s dream is to own a dress shop. Her identity was stripped of her on arrival – her clothes were taken away, and she was given a number to use in place of a name – but the dress room may be a place where she can keep a small part of her identity.

Except there are other girls, other women, with their own ideas about survival.

There’s Rose, beautiful, delicate Rose, who thinks she can keep her own ideology. Who would be crushed in a second without Ella. There’s Marta, who looks out for herself, and only herself. Carla, the prison guard, who thinks enemies of the people must be annihilated … but takes a liking to Ella.

The one thing they have in common is a desperate desire to survive.

breakbirdReview:

A sensitive and brilliantly-written look at the Holocaust. The Holocaust is a difficult area in fiction. It is an area of history which needs to be told, and needs introducing from a young age, but it is also an area of history where the truth needs to be respected above all else. Lucy Adlington has achieved this brilliantly. In every page I sensed that she respected the historical accounts most of all. Her characters walked through, but did not intrude upon, the facts.

I am always adamant that adults can read YA, and I stick to that. A text is a text. What differs is the perspective we bring to it. When reading about historical atrocities, it is worth bearing in mind that my perspective on a novel, as a 20-something woman, differs to that of the target audience. For the young readers, it may be the first time they have heard of the holocaust, or, more likely by this age-range, the first time they have heard much detail. I want to highlight this because I can’t review the novel from that viewpoint. For what it’s worth, I thought the novel never shied from the truth, but did not seek to alarm. It conveyed horror with subtlety. Characters cried over items which reminded them of dead relatives. Chimneys smoked in the distance. Terrible things happen, but the story ends with a happy twist. On a note of hope.

The story focuses on labour within the camp, an area which is often strangely lacking from Holocaust fiction. It conveys the horrific precision with which the Nazis executed their plans. It is also set roughly during the period leading up to liberation, in which the Nazis tried to kill as many prisoners as possible, even as opposing armies were marching towards the camps.

As a teenager, my philosophical questions used to be about the role of Germans within the camps. Were you bad if you were forced to act? Carla’s character illustrates this scenario well – a person with a terrible ideology, who commits terrible crimes. Capable of doing good, Carla is still rightly accountable for the things she has done during the war. These discussions are difficult for young people to get their heads around, and having characters to think about as they work through scenarios helps them to understand this is about real people. About crimes which were really committed.

Within the terrible setting, Rose and Ella are beautiful. Like the rose garden within the camp, (so aptly named…) it is impossible to imagine how they belong in such a setting. Rose, or Ella, and by extention any of the prisoners.

It was never going to be easy, reading about the Holocaust, but this is one of the best fictional books I have read on the subject. It respects the subject, and encourages its readers to counter hate with kindness, and by never seeing the world as them and us. Beautifully written.

 

 

Young Adult Reviews

Five Things I LOVE about Firelines – Firelines Blog Tour.

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(pic from author Twitter)

Émi’s family used to live in the Green Quarter. Then Émi’s father tried to climb the boundary wall, which is against the law. Émi and her mother were reassigned to the Red Quarter, among the rats and the sewage. They are subject to regular unannounced inspections from the cadets.

Émi is trying to keep her head down, but then she turns seventeen, and magic starts bursting out of her. If there is one thing which will get her executed, it is magic.

History books say that Mahg the Destroyer flattened the cities, but Émi’s father believed differently. When childhood friend Tsam reveals himself to be something more than the angel he has always been, Émi learns that different facts were recorded on the other side of the wall. The other cities still stand, and Émi has a huge power which might change the course of history.

 

Five things I love about Fire Lines by Cara Thurlbourn:

 

  • I liked how this was a dystopian fantasy. Different powers are out to further their own agendas, and the ordinary people are caught up in this, trying to figure out their own version of the truth.

 

  • There are some lovely images, especially around the watchers with the golden glow and their wings. My favourite bit of symbolism iswhen Émi is given a new necklace, with the symbols of her new world. She earlier sells one which represented the Four Quarters. I like how the necklaces show her change in understanding, and I also thought it was interesting that both were handed to her by people older than herself.

 

  • Imaginative world building: I love how we suddenly had elephant riders on the other side of the wall. It made me feel Émi really had broken out of the city.

 

  • The reality of the Red Quarter is well portrayed, with one person out to take advantage, and another taking everyone else under their wing. A place where a favour means twice as much because nobody has anything to give. It is gritty, but there is a strong sense of community.

 

  • Not everybody is what they initially seem. You think you’ve got the measure of a character, but there is more to learn. This isn’t a simple good guys/bad guys narrative. The characters’ interactions with each other are as complex as you would expect human relationships to be.

 

Firelines by Cara Thurlbourn

26th September 2017

 

Huge thanks to Faye for copy of Firelines, and for organising the tour. This does not affect the honesty of my thoughts.

Chat

Days of Mystery and Myth. Six Reasons why I love autumn.

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(Quote from Wintersmith album by Steeleye Span. Based on work by Terry Pratchett.)

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Spring is over-hyped. It is more fun now we live in the countryside, and actually see the swallows arriving and the lambsies skipping around the fields. Growing up in London, Spring was a wash-out. Every year, we were promised blossom and wooly lambs and little Easter chicklets. What did we get? Some sad blossom which hung around for half-a-day, and a whole lot of rain which made the blossom stick to the pavement like treacherously slippy confetti.

Meanwhile, we had to listen to the same boring stories about life beginning and the bloke who rode into town on a donkey. Great.

Never mind the renewal of life. Autumn meant conkers. Autumn meant new pencil cases, and pencils which weren’t covered in cruddy pencil dust, (and might never be! You never know!). Most importantly, autumn meant my birthday, while spring meant my sister’s. Which was fun and all that, but mine was the most exciting.

I still love early autumn. The colours are more striking, the food more filling and there is a hint of magic in the air, which spring just fails to deliver. Spring is the sappy season, which vies for your attention with the obvious. Autumn is the wilder, bolder season who throws out all the surprises and still wins.

 

Six Reasons I love autumn:

 

Conkers: Holding a conker is like holding the season in your hand, all the glossy, firey colours bound tighty into one nut. There is also the satisfaction of opening a horse chestnut shell. How can something so spikey be so smooth and delicate? Conkers are collectable. Don’t be fooled by people who say conker collections are for children. Adults are at it too. They collect twice as many, then pass it off as natural decoration, or seasonal garlands.

 

All the colours of the season: Sounds like a sad cliché. You’ve got to be out in it to appreciate. Cumbria in the autumn may be the most beautiful place on earth. We live near the Solway. The local moss (peat bog – bear with me, it’s spectacular), looked as if it had been set on fire and left to simmer down to embers. I’m quite certain it is home to goblins, or maybe there are people waiting to rise from the murk. You don’t get that in spring.

Food: Homemade jam. Blackberry and apple crumble. Nuts and berries and root vegetables. On October 1st, Hommity Pie comes back to Cranstons ( regional food supplier, and purveyor of great-pies-which-make-a-quick-meal.) Hommity Pie is a great option for veggies, and goes beautifully with the nut and leek salad. Well. The extra fat will keep me insulated.

Pumpkin soup: I love carving pumpkins, and was gaining a reputation back in London. I’m not quite at work-of-art level, but I like to do something more than the standard eyes-DSC_0529and-a-mouth. Over the Atlantic, pumpkin carving is HUGE, and it is something the internet has gifted me.

Pumpkin carving means pumpkin soup. We have this once a year, usually because I’ve wrecked at least one pumpkin and it seems a crime to waste so  much fruit.  Creamy soup and crusty bread. Need I say more?

 

Snow Queen. Wintersmith. Samhain: The dark nights and seasonal splendour  have brought out the best in our imagination since the dawn of time. Winter was when warrior tribes huddled around the fire and told stories. The only story about spring with the same bite is the story of Persephone in the Underworld. Even then, it’s the months in the underworld which make the story magical.

 These boots were made for walking: and stomping, and jumping in puddles, and walking around lakes. Sandals are made for looking pretty in, and that is a boring pastime. Not that I don’t have sandals I love, but I’m always happier in a pair of walking books, and as for those fleecy-lined boots I wear into town … they are like a hug for my toesies, and I’m so glad to see them back in action.

 

What is your favourite season? Tell me why it is magical in the comments below.

Young Adult Reviews

Whether you wear pettycoats or dungarees – More Than One Way To Be A Girl by Dyan Sheldon

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Extract:

‘Bet? Are you serious? You mean we switch around? You’re going to wear make-up and dresses, and I’m going to look like someone who will never get a date. Is that what you mean?’ 

That about covered it.

‘Yes, I’ll go the girly, look-at-me image, and you’ll go for the androgynous talk-to-me one. And we’ll see who cracks first.

Zizi and I both like to be right, which means we’d made plenty of bets before. How far could Zizi walk in her new heels. How long could I go without starting an argument.I bet her that she couldn’t be on time two days in a row. She bet me that I couldn’t go shopping with her for an entire afternoon and not complain once. As far as winning went, the judges agreed that we broke even. 

(More than One Way to be a Girl by Dyan Sheldon. P127.) 

breakbirdSynopsis:

ZiZi swears she would be lost without her make-up. Girlish charm is what gets her buy. It’s the reason guys do things for her, the reason her boss gives her the best tables. Customers like a pretty face. Loretta reckons ZiZi is better than that. She reckons women have been oppressed, and marriage is an institute, and lots of other things she is prepared to shout down people’s throats. She’s a person, not a girl.

The pair come to loggerheads, and make a bet. They will swap personalities for a month, and see who caves in first. Loretta adopts an hour-long make-up routine, while ZiZi chops all her hair off. It’s a sociology experiment. What could go wrong?

As it turns out, lots of things. Both girls observe the reactions of the guys around them, and start to think differently about the reasons they behave as they do. Meanwhile, cute star-watcher Gabe has gone off Loretta, while ZiZi’s crush claims to be out of town.

The girls compare notes and come to a striking conclusion in a Summer of mayhem.

breakbirdReview:

A feisty, feminist read which has me ready to march for equality.

I related to Loretta: the girl who has noticed and researched the issue, but failed to pick up on social smarts. Are they so smart? Here’s what I love about the dual perspective: the characters challenge each other, then they are challenged by their own experiences, until they come together and draw their conclusions.

Not convinced it’s for you? The book tells it like it is, but it is anything but a rant. Whatever your stance on gender equality, there will be a moment here where you recognise yourself, and where you see your own (apparently harmless) actions in the bigger picture. That time you smiled nicely to ‘pacify’ a guy? The time a guy threw himself out to ‘help’ you with something as onerous as, say, opening a train door? ZiZi and Loretta experience it all, and the reader cringes at their own experiences.

Both girls encounter problems in their summer jobs: Loretta works in a DIY shop, and is consigned to the counter and kettle when she changes her appearance to look more feminine. ZiZi experiences the opposite: her boss hires his waitresses for their blonde hair and perfect smile. ZiZi works five times as hard, for none of the approval. Perhaps these scenarios are exaggerated, but both stories highlight different issues about the way women are perceived in society.

The differences between ZiZi and Loretta show the divide which occurs in adolescence, when many girls feel pressured to focus on their looks. It also makes a statement about clothing choices: if a woman chooses to dress up, why should it attract male attention?

I found the ending abrupt – the last part of the story centres on a wedding, which is a hilarious setting for the theme, but I would have liked to see more of Zizi and Loretta’s life after their experiment. The girls draw a satisfying conclusion, but the story ends right there. I appreciate why this decision was made, but I would have liked to see how their conclusion affected them into the new school year. What had changed? Were those changes superficial, or did they have an impact on other people?  That said, I enjoyed every second of what was there, and will sniff out more Dyan Sheldon for contemporary YA with a bite.

 

 

waiting on wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday: Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron

Synopsis (taken from Goodreads):

 

35880579Sometimes, I imagine alternate endings to the story: last-minute miracles, touches of magic. I picture how things might have gone, if I wasn’t there. If I’d left just a few minutes later. If I hadn’t been alone. It doesn’t make any difference. One way or another, the crash always comes.

Ten days after Jaya Mackenzie’s mum dies, angels start falling from the sky. Smashing down to earth at extraordinary speeds, wings bent, faces contorted, not a single one has survived.

Hysteria mounting with every Being that drops, Jaya’s father uproots the family to Edinburgh intent on catching one alive. But Jaya can’t stand this obsession and, struggling to make sense of her mother’s sudden death and her own role on that fateful day, she’s determined to stay out of it.

When her best friend disappears and her father’s mania spirals, things hit rock bottom and it’s at that moment something extraordinary happens: An angel lands right at Jaya’s feet, and it’s alive. Finally she is forced to acknowledge just how significant these celestial beings are.

Set against the backdrop of the frenzied Edinburgh festival, OUT OF THE BLUE tackles questions of grief and guilt and fear over who we really are. But it’s also about love and acceptance and finding your place in this world as angels drop out of another.

 

Why I can’t wait to read Out of the Blue:

 

  • I read an extract last year, when the novel was listed for the Bath Novel Award. The story has been in my imagination all year, from the angel-hunting app, to the Dad desperate to find an angel following the loss of his wife. It’s the sort of novel which gets under your skin, and stays there. It’s the sort of novel you think about during random moments, six months later.

 

  • Angels, crash-landing. Angels had their run alongside Vampires and faeries, and a lot of it was predictable. Done differently, angels make fascinating subject matter, (see Phillip Pullman, David Almond and Pat Walsh for interesting interpretations of angels.) There is something different about Sophie Cameron’s crash-landing angels.

 

  • The world in hysteria. To my memory, people have downloaded an angel-hunting app, and are tracking angels for monetary gain. I love it when authors think about how events of their story would affect the wider population, (see Astercote by Penelope Lively, or The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan.)

 

  • The Edinburgh Festival. What a setting, and one so specific it is possible to visit, and walk through the story. As regular readers of WoW know, I love stories set in specific locations.

 

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron

Macmillan Children’s Books

March 2018

Chat · Guest Post

Guest Post: Picking Books as a Parent

Parents. Do you give your munchkins free reign over their book choices, or do you draw the line? Is any book a book well read, or is there a distinction between proper books and television tie-ins? Should children leave certain books behind and grow into new ones? When I worked in a bookshop, I saw how different one parent’s stand-point was to another. 

I’m so pleased to welcome Charlotte of Charlotte Somewhere to my blog. Charlotte is the parent of a six year-old boy (S). She has told me how they came to acquire some of S’s recent reads. Huge thanks Charlotte. 

breakbird

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My mother never policed my reading choices. She isn’t a reader herself but she always encouraged me and let me choose what I wanted. I remember once being in the library and requesting a book from the “point” section, which needed parental approval. My mum told the librarian that of course I could borrow it, she trusted me to choose my own books and to ask questions if I had any. I felt so grown-up!

I try to emulate this with my son, S. I want him to choose his own direction for reading, but left entirely to his own devices he would stick to books he alrrady knows or that are stories of his favourite films. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but I do want him to broaden his horizons whilst he’s young. We have a deal where in special offers or at the school book fair, he chooses one book and we choose one for him. It’s working well so far. 

20170903_123829The BFG, Fantastic Mr Fox and The Witches

S made the move to ‘chapter books’ at school last year, with the school reading The BFG. Of course, he wanted to read it again at home. We decided to try out some other Roald Dahl. Fantastic Mr Fox was a hit. The Witches, less so. It was far, far darker than I remembered it being. Turns out mums don’t always know best (but you didn’t hear that from me). 

Captain Underpants and Dirty Bertie
Captain Underpants is S’s current favourite obsession. Everything is 

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Captain Underpants. It made sense to direct his attentions to the books. They are full of small child toilet 
humour and hilarious adventures. He loves them! Dirty Bertie is us branching out. S loved the idea of a book about bogeys. Anything with bottoms or bogeys is bound to be a winner. I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point. 

You’re A Bad Man Mr Gum

20170903_123921This one was recommended by a bookseller at a local independent book shop. She sold it to S on the line “there’s a fairy in the bathroom who beats him with a frying pan”. That’s all S needed to hear. We’ve not tried this one yet, but it sounds really funny. 

Knighthood for Beginners 

In my experience, kids love a story with an adventure, but not every kid sees themselves as fitting with the stereotypes that often go with knights and adevntures. In this story, the convention is turned on it’s head as the dragon dreams of becoming a knight. S thought this sounded really good and we can’t wait to read it. 

The Seriously Extraordinary Diary of Pig and Captain Pug

The Seriously Extraordinary Diary of Pig was another recommendation from a book20170903_123933 seller. S told her he likes stories with  animals in them; she recommended this book which is written from the viewpoint of a pig called Bacon. 

Captain Pug is one he chose for himself because he thought the dog on the front was really cute. I’m sure one of my responsibilities as a parent is to teach him not to judge books by their covers, but we all do it sometimes and I’m just pleased he’s taking an interest in choosing his own books.

 
Thanks again Charlotte, for sharing your perception as a parent, and for the wonderful pictures. Be sure to pay a visit to CharlotteSomewhere
Are you a parent? Do you choose books for your child? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Picture Book Reviews

Fear can be misplaced – Hortense and the Shadow

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A charming story which shows how fear can be misplaced, set in a Winter Wonderland.

Hortense hates her shadow. It chases her, and makes itself scarily tall. One day, it trips her up, and Hortense decides to act. I love the language – Hortense lives in the middle of a ‘wolfish wood’, for example. The animal references form a sense of magic. A raven cries as Hortense runs from her shadow. This makes the separation more believable.

hortense 2The tone and subtle shade of the pictures is divine. I love how trees and animals border the white snow. The closeness of the plants hints at things hiding in the woods, and forms a hide-and-seek game with the red-hatted bandit, who reappears in the early pages.

Hortense is confronted by the bandits. Readers can compare this with the earlier situation of being afraid of Shadow, and discuss whether Hortense was right. Should we allow fear of smaller things to take over? What is the purpose of fear? Why do we feel it, and how can we keep it under control? It would be a great opportunity to discuss with children how fear can alert us to something wrong, and why we should always talk to grown-ups if we are afraid.

A lovely addition for any bookshelf, I love the style of artwork, and look forward to more from this talented duo.

(NB – Images Cropped)

Hortense and the Shadow by Natalia and Lauren O’Hara

Ladybird Books (Penguin Random House)

5th October 2017