Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: The Bear, The Piano, The Dog And The Fiddle by David Litchfield

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Hector plays his fiddle. Hugo the dog is one of his biggest fans. They have always been the best of friends. Now times aren’t so good and Hector has stopped making money from his music. He puts down his fiddle for good. 

When Hugo picks up the fiddle and gains a big following and joins a famous bad, Hector is jealous. At their parting, he says something he regrets. 

Will the two friends ever be united? 

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A poignant and beautiful picture-book about the lasting power of friendship. 

David Litchfield is a rare talent. His story is as touching and memorable as his illustrations. This isn’t a one-read picture book. It is a story which will stick in your mind. 

I loved the themes of friendship. Even the best of friends fall out and our actions are often motivated by our emotions. Elderly Hector has always wanted to play a famous concert hall but never achieved that success. Seeing his friend rise to fame brings back difficult feelings and Hector says something he regrets. This would be a lovely story for talking to children about how arguments start. Hector is not a bad person. He is a sad person. That understanding can help children to empathise with each other and to understand that, often, nobody is at fault. 

The moment of reconciliation is touching and special. 

img_7098The illustration is top-rate. Litchfield captures the atmosphere of a big city – how it can be both beautiful and ugly, crowded and lonely. I particularly love his use of light – light reflecting from damp pavements. Windows glowing and streetlights casting a narrow beam. I grew up in London and can think of no picture-book which has ever captured this quite so well. 

This is the kind of arty, beautiful book which I would gift to adults. It is also going to be a big hit with the target audience – expect it to become a real favourite and one which your children remember beyond childhood. 

 

Thanks to Quarto Books for my copy of The Bear, The Piano, The Dog And The Fiddle. Opinions my own.

Non-Fiction · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Picture Book Review: Once Upon A Raindrop – The Story Of Water by James Carter and Nomoco

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Review: Once Upon A Raindrop – The Story Of Water by James Carter and Nomoco

Our world is so wet. We need water to survive. Venture on a journey through the world of water. Where does water come from and how does it move around our planet? Those questions and more are answered in this beautiful and informative book. 

This book is both informative and poetic. It immerses the reader into the world of water through questions and language, then gently imparts information about the origins of water and the water cycle. Information books for younger readers have come a long way in recent years. There is suddenly an understanding that information needs to come in small bites and that it needs to be presented in interesting and attractive ways to hold the reader’s attention.

img_7100Once Upon A Raindrop is a masterpiece of design. Kazuko Nomoco has produced designs for numerous brands and clients including The Guardian, The Folio Society, Audi and Moschino. I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find she had a background in communications – her designs remind me of the very best infographics. They grab your attention straight away and impart just enough information in one go. 

This is an information book for modern times. 

I love the minimalist colour-palette – different shades of blue and grey are occasionally broken with splashes of colour. The style is impressionistic, with very few lines. 

This would be suitable for children as young as four but would make a lovely gift for any child interested in geography or learning about the water cycle. It would also be a great book to use in art. It would inspire children to think outside the box about how they paint and draw water. 

 

Thanks to Caterpillar Books for my copy of Once Upon A Raindrop. Opinions my own.

Chat · Reflection

Four Things I’ve Learned This September

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Fresh fruit and nature – September 2018

August ranks as the third most disappointing month of the year after February and January respectively. Which used to seem strange, given how much I love September. Then I figured it out.

September is supposed to be autumnal.

Nobody expects sunshine and beaches and ice-lollies. If I have to get a raincoat out in September, I’ll go with the flow. In August, that’s a disappointing summer. These days I’ve learned to embrace the cycle of nature a little more but I still notice the darkness creeping in every August.

My month has been about editing. Editing a 42,000 word (give or take) manuscript. It’s a strange old time – a triumph because I am putting in so much hard work and learning heaps about chapter and scene. In reality, many authors write three or four manuscripts before they are published (I’ve heard everything between 2 and 9). This perspective is important – too many people think novel-writing is a one-shot game – but it is also daunting. I will have to face the blank page many times over if I want to make this a reality.

What have you been up to this month? Is August your favourite time of year? Chat to me in the comments below and I promise to reply. Here are some of the things I’ve learned this August.

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Old proofs are THERE to cut up

One of the highlights of book-blogging is getting to read books ahead of publication. Sometimes this happens in the form of a digital file. Sometimes a finished copy is sent weeks ahead of publication. Sometimes bloggers are set proof-copies.

A proof is essentially an unfinished copy of the text. That’s not to say the story isn’t finished, but details are allowed to change between the proof and the final version. Selling proof copies is blogger-sin No1 (Don’t. Just don’t.)

What do you do with a proof copy you don’t want to keep? Throwing away or burning them goes against everything I have ever been taught about respecting people’s hard work.

This month I found a solution – use them for craft.

Hang on a second – I won’t burn them but I’ll cut them up?

Craft is about creation over destruction. I think this act of creation means I’m treating the used proof with respect. The publishers don’t want those texts in circulation so using them for craft seems like a great answer. I’m partway through a Christmas decoration and can’t wait to share pictures online.

 

Collaborations = creativity.

This month I wrote a post in collaboration with the wonderful HelloBexa.

As much as I love my blog, there are times when I worry it gets a bit same-old. Those are the times to reach out to other people.  When I suggested the collaboration, I wanted something which would suit both our blogs. By looking at Bexa’s niches, I brought something new to my blog.

The Scrapbook Memory Jar may be one of my favourite blog posts this year. I would love to collaborate with other bloggers, especially bloggers outside the bookish-sphere.

 

Heritage open days are my new hobby

Late in August, I was asked by a member of my poetry group to help with the heritage open day at the local church. I was happy to help … but little did I know how much I would LOVE it.

Seriously. Next year I am signing up for every single slot.

What’s so great about leading people up and down a church tower?

Firstly, I met people from all over. A group of cyclists from Amsterdam on their way to the Irish Sea. People from the local area who I’ve never met before. People from other parts of the country with interesting jobs and life-experience. As an aspiring author, the best thing I can do is get out and *listen*. Heritage open day offered people to listen to in abundance.

Secondly, I learned so much history. Our guides were incredibly knowledgeable about the local area as well as the church and one of our visitors talked about local sites of interest from different time-periods.

Dare you to sign up for something different. Netflix is fun but talking to people is better.

 

Fruit tastes better when it is fresh from the trees

I learn this every autumn and relearn it with every mouthful. There’s no denying it. Food is supposed to be fresh.

We picked apples and plums from the trees on the village green and were sent apples and pears by different neighbours. Now everybody has taken their first crop there are buckets of apples all around the village looking for good homes.

As well as eating some fresh, we freeze lots of apples to keep a stock for apple-pie.

 

What have you learned this September? Do you love autumn? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Middle Grade Reviews

Review: A Tangle Of Magic by Valija Zinck

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Review – A Tangle Of Magic by Valija Zinck

Extract:

This was all going very wrong. She didn’t want to be light, she wanted to be strong … but … her feet! Her feet, in their blue sandals … they were floating in the air! 

(A Tangle Of Magic by Valija Zinck. P60.) 

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Synopsis:

Penelope has always been different. How many other ten-year-olds have totally grey hair? Then there is the fire smell which seems to hang around her. When Penelope’s mother has an accident and stays in hospital for a few weeks, Penelope discovers a secret. Her hair isn’t really grey at all. The grey is just dye. Penelope’s hair is bright, flaming red.

Then Penelope starts hearing voices from the earth around her and floating in the air.

What are these strange powers and do they have something to do with her father – the one who disappeared years ago? Penelope sets off in search of her father and learns about herself along the way.

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Review:

A gentle fantasy about magic and inheritance. Think flaming hair and talking roads and the discovery of magical powers.

This reminds me of slightly older books like Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh. The story is as much about the journey as it is about the outcome and Penelope’s adventures take place in her local area. Penelope’s magic brings the setting to life – she hears the road talking to her and flies alongside flocks of birds. Each chapter shows Penelope having different adventures and mishaps with her magic as she gets to grips with it and learns about her father.

It was lovely to see Penelope’s friendships growing in this story. Penelope’s friends protect her and look out for her as she tests her magic. There wasn’t a specific storyline about Penelope’s friendships but her little group of friends is very much part of her landscape.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the atmosphere. It would be a lovely story for a 6 – 9-year-old because it captures that feeling of newly-found wonder and interest in everything which children experience at this age. When I worked in a bookshop several years ago, it was hardest to recommend books for this age-group. Books which bridged the gap between early chapter books and core middle-grade. It is lovely to find a book which fits that description.

I also enjoyed the language – the sentences and paragraphs roll along and there is some beautiful descriptive writing.

A gentle story which would be well-suited to newly confident readers. 

 

Middle Grade Reviews

Waiting On Wednesday: The Great Animal Escapade by Jane Kerr

The Great Animal EscapeSynopsis (from Chicken House Books): 

Danny works at Belle Vue Zoo, where – alongside training the famous elephant Maharajah – he helps out with the day-to-day tasks of caring for the animals.

But when animals start escaping, Danny is the prime suspect: after all, he was a former street urchin and pickpocket. When a man turns up claiming to be his father, the plot thickens. Can Danny untangle the mystery of the animal escapade – and find out where he really belongs – in order to clear his name?

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Why I can’t wait to read The Great Animal Escapade:

  • Hurrah! A sequel to The Great Elephant Thief, which follows orphan Danny’s progress as he rides an elephant from Edinburgh to Manchester in a bid to escape trouble and help a zoo-owner keep his fortune. The Elephant Thief was one of those books which is just a bloomin’ good story. It kept me reading from start to finish and the plot stayed in my head in such a way that I think about it at random moments. I would read another book by Jane Kerr in a second. 

 

  • The 1800s entertainment industry provides a rich setting for story. Maybe it is the same attraction as steam-punk – there is enough innovation to be interesting, and enough left undiscovered (such as forensic science, the internet and mobile technology,) to keep the story interesting. It is also a fertile ground for interesting characters. Many people whose didn’t fit into conventional roles found their homes in the entertainment industry. Their stories have proved pouplar in reccent years as we’ve become more aware of all the voices waiting to be heard. 

 

  • I love books set in a specific geographical location, especially historical books which show us what a town or region meant at a different time.

 

  • The bond between Danny and Maharajah the elephant was special. Although I don’t support animals in modern zoos, it was lovely to read about a boy from the streets of 1800s Edinburgh bonding with an animal. Contact and respect for other species can change our lives and Danny instinctively understood that Maharajah could communicate with him too. 

 

 

The Great Animal Escapade by Jane Kerr

Chicken House Books

March 2019

Young Adult Reviews

Review: Friendship Fails Of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager

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Extract:

How is it possible that just because Steph’s busy and Faith’s away, I have no one left?! Literally no one. How pathetic is that?! How do I only have two friends in the entire globe?! The entire globe of nearly eight billion people? TWO? Out of EIGHT BILLION?

Is that normal??!!

I’m Robinson Crusoe, sitting out on a tiny island all by myself. And no one’s coming to rescue me. 

(From The Friendship Fails Of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager.) 

birdbreakSynopsis:

Emma’s given up on love but all her friends are in relationships. Suddenly Emma isn’t sure what to do with herself and she misses the old dynamic of her friendships. This puts her on a mission to make new best friends. 

The school fashion show seems like the perfect opportunity to meet new people.

The result is a series of hilarious situations and mishaps. Emma is back online and she is unafraid to share all. 

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Review:

Editing Emma was one of my surprise hits of 2017. By surprise, I don’t mean there was any reason the book shouldn’t have been fab. I mean I wasn’t certain it would be for me. I was late the party with contemporary YA and had just discovered what it fabulous genre it is when I read Editing Emma. The book had a distinctive, chatty voice and the characters stayed with me long after I opened the book. It reminded me what it was really like to be the teenager and its themes about online identity were totally up to date. 

Guess what? The sequel is fab too.

Lots of seventeen and eighteen-year-olds have to confront shifts in their friendship groups. Partners come and go, groups expand and reshape as young people move into sixth-form and there is the great big end-of-school looming over everything. That’s what is happening to Emma Nash. She may have sorted out her own love life but with her friends in relationships, she’s feeling pretty lonely. 

So Emma logs back online. 

I love how these stories explore the role of the internet in modern friendship groups. This is something which – until the past couple of years – wasn’t acknowledged in YA. It was like the unspoken taboo. Teens had a whole world online but people were afraid to encourage it. It is great to see books which honestly reflect how teenagers use the internet. Friendship Fails Of Emma Nash covers everything from trawling through profiles of people we vaguely know to awkward emails to how it can feel when the internet turns nasty. 

This book is also upfront about the things teenagers really talk about. Periods. Sex. This book is unafraid to visit the supposedly-taboo topics. Emma is unafraid to share everything – and I mean everything. She’s like that real girl you knew as a teenager who would give you regular updates on bra-size and period flow. The reader is reminded that these subjects are totally normal and hopefully this will give them confidence to have open conversations and challenge stereotypes. 

Another hit. Laugh, cry and nod your head in recognition. Emma is every-girl and she is your new fictional BFF. 

 

Thanks to Nina Douglas PR and HQ Stories for my copy of The Friendship Fails Of Emma Nash. Opinions my own.

Non-Fiction · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: The Moon by Hannah Pang and Thomas Hegbrook

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Review: The Moon by Hannah Pang and Thomas Hegbrook. 

For many years, man has looked up to the moon …

From artists to astronomers, poets to mathematicians to dreamers, the moon has been a source of inspiration and wonder to humankind. Myths have been told about the moon and songs written.

What is the moon and why does it continue to be a source of inspiration?

The Moon is special because it examines a topic from a multidisciplinary-perspective. Instead of being a science book or a history book or a collection of literature it looks at everything together.

img_7025I am a huge believer in this approach. It has always seemed strange to me how quickly children are taught to believe that one subject is more important than another, and concurrently that one subject is separate from another. All knowledge is interlinked and all communication starts with the human mind. The Moon shows how one subject has been approached, studied and communicated from different angles across the course of history.

It is also a beautiful and fascinating gift-book.

This doesn’t have to be read from start to finish, which can be a very attractive thing, especially for young readers. The Moon is the sort of book which will be dipped into. Poured over. I can imagine readers opening to any page and seeing where they land.

The illustrations and design are five-star.

The colour-pallette is drawn from the night sky – and I realise now how many colours we see in the evening. From the dark blues to inky blacks to ochre and pale yellow. This would make a lovely starting-point for anyone drawing pictures of the night sky. After asking children to use the colours they see at night, you could ask them to look at the pictures and ask what sort of colours are used.

I also love the number of people illustrated. The pictures remind us that this book is not just about the moon, it is about our relationship with an understanding of the moon. It is an anthology of human experience.

This would make a beautiful gift and will be high on my recommendations for Christmas 2018.

 

Thanks to Little Tiger Press for my copy of The Moon. Opinions my own.

Q & A · Q and A/Author Interview · Uncategorized

Author Q&A: Catherine Johnson talks about Race To The Frozen North

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Author Q&A: Catherine Johnson talks about Race To The Frozen North

Catherine Johnson 2018 credit Andy DonohoeCatherine Johnson is a star. 

She’s written a large number of books, including Sawbones and The Curious Lady Caraboo. Her stories are mainly historical and often feature lesser-known characters from history, particularly those from black history. 

Her fiction opened my eyes to the fact that history, and the canon of literature we are all familiar with, has been one-sided. Catherine’s work also made me aware of the all the stories yet to be listened to, yet to be told. 

birdAbout Race To The Frozen North: 

When Matthew Henson runs away from his violet stepmother, he begins a new life which nobody could have predicted. Inspired by the stories of an explorer named Baltimore Jack, Matthew sets out to see the world. 

As a black boy in early 1900s America, the odds were against him. 

Matthew works three times harder than anyone else to be judged on merit instead of being dismissed. His tenacity and hard work pay off, and he is hired and rehired in various positions on ships which sail the world. Often those positions are menial to his experience, but he perseveres and sees more of the world as a young man than most people see in their lifetime. 

Finally, the opportunity comes for him to play a key role in an expedition and he sets out to become the first man to reach the North Pole. 

Matthew and his friends Ootah and Segloo look at the success of the expedition in a different light – although Matthew plants the American flag in the right spot he understands how absurd it seems to his friends that another country would be so hung up about one spot of ice. This would make a lovely opening to conversation about colonial attitudes and inherited beliefs (ie we may not think we are prejudiced, but we may have inherited a set of beliefs from our culture including the idea that ‘conquering’ geography is cause for celebration.

I am delighted to welcome Catherine to my blog for a Q&A. Her answers are insightful and interesting. Thank you Catherine for your time.

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Q&A: Catherine Johnson

1.) What drew you to Matthew Henson’s story?

I LOVE black history. For centuries people like me have been airbrushed out of the past and I believe it’s vital that everyone realises that enslavement is not the only story to be told about us. Also I am a sucker for terrible stories of people pushing themselves to their limits. I cannot imagine doing what Henson or Peary or Scott or Amundsen did. Also Henson was unique in that he learnt from the indigenous people of the far north. It was a completely different attitude to the prevailing one of the time, which said that western culture knew best about everything.

 

2.) What sort of research did you do and how did this shape your story?

Real solid research for this book mostly meant reading a lot of books! So even though I had read many of them when I wrote a non-fiction book about his exploits I had to look again. And read again, and check again. It was harder with this book because it’s more of a personal account. And even though there is an autobiography – written by Henson and a co-writer – there are still loads of gaps. And although there is a lot of detail about the polar expeditions, I thought readers could always get that elsewhere. What I imagine a lot of young readers will be really interested in is how and why an eleven-year-old boy runs away from home, and how he sets off – like a kid in a story – to see the world and perhaps seek his fortune.

 

3.) If you could voyage to one place in time and history, where would it be and why?

Ooh this is hard. I love a hot bath and antibiotics and modern medicine – can you imagine getting frostbite so badly your toes come off in your boot when you take them off? That’s what happened to Robert Peary who was the leader of Henson’s expeditions? 

And while I love clothes – especially late 18th century/early 19th century women’s dresses – if you weren’t wealthy or healthy the past was not an easy place!  

So if I was very rich and very healthy – and not about to have a baby – maybe I would have liked to live in 1780s London and meet the Blackbirds of St Giles…

 

4.) You write historical fiction. What draws you to historical narratives?

Historical fiction is life or death, and the stakes for young people (all people actually) were often much higher than they are today. This means there’s so much scope for adventure and excitement. Also it’s important to show readers that our past as Britons was full of very different sorts of people. Even in Roman times Britain was an island where many cultures smashed together, and that black people were always a part of British society from at least (if not before) Roman times. It’s about saying we all belong here.

 

5.) Matt decides to travel after listening to tales of adventure from a man named Baltimore Jack. Who were your role models as a child and how did they inspire you?

Writing role models? I suppose I was massively impressed by my Uncle who wrote books (I couldn’t read them and they were heavy theological books all in Welsh) but I remember the thrill of seeing his name on a book in a shop window when I was on holiday with my family in North Wales. Also I babysat for a woman who lived next-door-but-one when I was in my early teens. She had a desk in her kitchen with her typewriter set up and above it a shelf of the books she had written. She was a single parent and supported her family writing not just books but radio plays and TV – she was one of the first on the Grange Hill team. I was incredibly impressed by her, her name is Margaret Simpson.

 

6.) Matthew Henson is a forgotten character from history. Which other characters need a higher profile?

 

My favourite would have to be John Ystumllyn, who became a head gardener at a big house in North Wales at the end of the 18th century. He was enslaved and brought to Wales as a boy, during the fashion for exotic slave attendants for wealthy young women. Unlike some of these children he wasn’t sent to be worked to death on Caribbean plantations as soon as he grew up, but gained his freedom, married a local girl and had several children. 

 

Guest Post

Blog Tour: Author Content – Pages & Co by Anna James

Pages & Co by Anna James – blog tour. 

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Pages & Co was one of my favourite reads this summer. It is a magical middle-grade story which will by loved and enjoyed by all bookish people. The story follows a girl with the magical ability to wander inside books. 

I am delighted to welcome Anna James to BookMurmuration to talk about the books which made her an avid reader. bird

Children’s Books That Made Me The Person I Am Today – reccomendations from author Anna James 

 I imagine that anyone reading this is built of books. I dread to think of who I would be if you took everything I’ve learned or felt because of a book I’ve read, I worry there wouldn’t be much left. In Pages & Co, my heroine Tilly feels much the same, so much so that she struggles to relate to real people outside of the bookshop that she lives in. When characters from her favourite books start popping up, she thinks she’s found the friends she needs, but of course real life is still waiting.

Yesterday I wrote about my top ten children’s classics over on a Day Dreamer’s Thoughts. All of those books were hugely formative for me, but I’ve resisted the urge to repeat any (Anne of Green Gables in particular!) to choose some more modern books that had a big impact on me growing up. From the super famous to the out of print, these are the five books that have most impacted me as a reader, a writer and a person.

 

Favourite books from childhood –

–          Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones

“And it’s a pity too that I’ve no right to open your letters. I hope you don’t get many, or my conscience will give me no peace.”

If I had to name one writer that has had the biggest impact on me it would be Diana Wynne Jones. She’s written a lot of books and I think I’ve read most of them. She’s probably best known for Howl’s Moving Castle because of the Studio Ghibli film, but in my mind the Chrestomanci series is her best. They’re a bit of a Narnia situation, i.e. do you read them in the order they were written, or chronologically in terms of in-world timing, but I would recommend starting with Charmed Life. Quirky, funny and clever, it’s storytelling at its absolute best. With her worlds within worlds, playfulness with genre and tropes, and stories of finding yourself, Wynne taught me all the foundations of the things I love to read and write.   

 

–          Back Home by Michelle Magorian

“Come on,’ said Peggy. ‘You’ll have to come with me. I need you to show me the way.”

Michelle Magorian wrote the beloved Goodnight Mr Tom (which I’ve somehow never read) but my heart lies with Back Home, the story of Virginia, nicknamed Rusty for her red hair (I can’t resist ginger heroine as a redhead myself) who is returning to England after her evacuation to the US during the Second World War. She comes back to a country and a family she barely understands and struggles to fit in at home or at the strict boarding school she’s sent to. It’s a story of hope, bravery, family and being true to yourself. If you’re already a fan, I recently read Hilary McKay’s The Skylarks’ War and it took me right back to how I felt reading Back Home.

 

–          Momo by Michael Ende

“Those who still think that listening isn’t an art should see if they can do it half as well.”

Another book where the author is better known for a different title, you might have heard of Ende as the writer of The Neverending Story, but he also wrote another book about the power of storytelling about an orphan called Momo. It’s sometimes also published as The Grey Gentlemen, who are the villains of the piece and inveigle their way into Momo’s town and start to steal the people’s time. This is one of my Dad’s favourite books, and I came to it through his version which is printed in brown ink with amazing illustrations. It’s a trippy, weird, profound book about how we use our time, and what is really important in life, and the grey gentlemen were big inspiration for me creating Enoch Chalk, the villain in Pages & Co. His grey bowler hat is a nod to them.

 

–          Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

“You cannot change what you are, only what you do.”

From some slightly more obscure titles to one of the most famous books of recent decades. I was bought Northern Lights for Christmas by my Grandad when I was about nine or ten and I fell in love. My Grandad, and the way he chose books for me and my sister, hugely inspired Tilly’s Grandad. He died when I was at university, but I hope that in Tilly’s Grandad he exists still in some way. His Dark Materials is also the series that made me aware of publishing, because I had to wait for the third book in the series. I remember going into my local Waterstones every time I passed to ask if they knew when it was going to be available. As well as being brilliant stories, these books taught me about challenging corrupt authority, standing up for what is right, and showed me the power of being your own heroine, something that is at the heart of Tilly’s story too.

 

–          They Do Things Differently There by Jan Mark

“We have to be careful from now on,’ Elaine said. ‘In a minute we’ll be back where we started. If we’re going to disappear, this is where it happens.”

It is an absolute travesty that this book, first published in 1994, is out of print (I think I am going to have to petition my publisher to buy the rights and reissue it). It’s one of the weirdest, most wonderful books I’ve ever read, and my childhood copy (whose RRP is £3.50!) is very worn from how much I read it. Arguably a UKYA novel before UKYA existed as a genre, it’s about two teenage girls living in a newly built town just outside of London, inventing a hidden world in the cracks and corners of the identical suburban houses. It features fishmonger poets, avenging angels, and a mermaid factory and it is a clever, weird trip of a book that kicked off my love of books about magic just around the corner, hiding in plain sight in the real world (see also Archer’s Goon by Diana Wynne Jones!).

 

Pages & Co: Tilly And The Bookwanderers is available from 20th September 2018.

Thanks to Anna James for your time and to Sam White at HarperCollins UK for organising the tour.

blog tour · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Blog Tour: Maybe The Moon by Frances Ives

Blog Tour: Maybe The Moon by Frances Ives

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‘Maybe the moon, so high above, 

Is shining on me and the friends I love.’ 

Eric loves his life in the forest, especially living so close to his animal friends. When Eric moves away from the city, he worries he will never be happy in a place so far away from his friends. 

As Eric explores his new home and makes new friends, he takes comfort from the fact that all the people he loves are under the same moon. 

A gentle but profound story about moving away from our loved ones. 

This book is extraordinarily beautiful, from the shiny-moon on the cover to the bright double-page spreads. The words are beautiful too – the gentle story is framed by the moments Eric looks at the moon, and his changing emotions about moving away from his country home. 

The story is like an inversion of Town Mouse and Country Mouse. Although Eric does return to the country, he does so with the new understanding that wherever he travels there will be new friends to make and old friends who still love him. The message of the story is clear – we may leave a place behind but we don’t have to move on from the people

img_7018I also loved that Eric’s first friends are animals. He is perplexed by the city, and initially thinks there won’t be any animals, but soon he finds pockets of nature (as well as other children to go exploring with). This could stimulate some great discussion about what might make an environment hostile to nature and what we can do to encourage and protect wildlife. 

I adore the design – double-page spreads which are dedicated to illustration are balanced with other spreads where the background is white. The variety means our eyes are drawn to the different illustrations. It never feels predictable or sameish. 

This would be especially appropriate for children facing a move or a change of schools. It would be a lovely gift to give to someone to tell them that, however far apart, you will always share a connection. 

One of the most beautiful picture books I have seen this year and one with a gentle story and a strong theme. 

 

Thanks to OMaraBooks for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my copy of Maybe The Moon. Opinions my own.