Reading, reviewing and collecting all modern children's books . . . from J.K Rowling to Philip Pullman, as well as up and coming authors. This is for like-minded enthusiasts, who are as passionate about modern day children's' authors as we are. So enjoy, communicate and share the love of books with us.
FROM THE HOME OF THE MR. MEN COMES A BRAND NEW BRITISH HERO
DOUGLAS – A DOG IN A BILLION
Giles Hargreaves follows in his famous father's footsteps as his first creation is published today
London 28th March 2011 – Today Giles Hargreaves, son of Roger Hargreaves – the creator and illustrator of the Mr. Men, releases his first children’s book, Douglas.
Douglas is a story about a dog. Not just any old, run-of-the-mill, everyday, ordinary dog, but an extraordinary dog. A dog in a billion. A dog called Douglas.
Douglas doesn’t go for walkies, he would sooner go for a spin in his shiny red sports car. And that is not all. Among his many talents, this sophisticated fellow toots on the tuba, goes skiing and plays a fiendish game of chess. Douglas can do anything. What a dog!
But there is one thing Douglas can’t do. One thing he desperately wants to do, but can’t, no matter how hard he tries. Douglas cannot wag his tail, poor chap. And this makes him feel glum. Very glum indeed.
Can a little bird called Basil help Douglas make his dream come true?
David Riley, Managing Director of Egmont Publishing Group said, “We are delighted to be working with Giles Hargreaves to help bring Douglas to the attention of the world: his trials, tribulations and achievements should be celebrated. It’s been forty years since the launch of Britain’s best-loved children’s book series The Mr. Men, and now the Hargreaves family brings us another classic British character.”
Douglas is published in traditional picture book format on the 28th March at £5.99.
It features beautiful full-page illustrations and quirky vignettes, plus a sheet of utterly adorable stickers so you can take Douglas with you wherever you go!
Being new at school bites. But at least it doesn't kill you. Mostly.
Bobby thinks she might well be on the School Trip from Hell. Too bad she's a noob, too bad her classmates don't rate her weirdo accent and too bad that Scotland is having the worst blizzard since the Ice Age. Looks like she's going to be on this school bus for a quite a while; could things get much worse?
Yep. They could.
Inexplicably, her classmates start dying...and then they come back to life again...and what's more, they're very, very hungry.
With nowhere to run and no contact with the outside world, Bobby is thrown together with a raggle-taggle group of survivors at a roadside café. There's indie kid drop-out Smitty, the class beauty queen Alice, dweeby Pete and two near useless adults: a half-conscious bus driver and a volatile petrol station attendant.
The frenemies struggle to stay alive - through explosions, deadly battles and a breakneck chase through the snowbound wilderness. Somehow they have to make it to safety - and get some answers - no matter what the cost. Can they survive the Undead? And each other?
The US President is fighting for his life! Mysterious lights, an inexplicable illness and a deadly plague plunge the ARCTIC6 into another exciting adventure. When the friends stumble across a research facility hidden deep in the Suffolk countryside, they discover an insane plot in which the lives of millions are at stake. As they work to unravel the secrets of the facility, a deadly countdown is ticking. Can they prevent a global disaster? Do they have time to save the lives that hang in the balance? Will they even have time to save themselves?? This is the second installment in this series of books. In this edition, we find Iago, his cousins (Cam, Tara and Renny) and his younger sister Aretha, wrapped up in another gripping adventure. In my opinion, this book has a more substantial and gripping storyline than the first. The author has really established the tone through a direct approach to the telling of the story, which I thought was a really good feature. I felt that I was reading a classic adventure, even perhaps in the vain of the Famous Five books, but with a modern twist. Bringing it right up to date, it incorporates both modern style issues and modern day technology.
I loved the idea that different elements of the story were told through the blog entries of two characters. This created an interesting and different perspective to the ongoing story, which again, I felt worked really well.
The children (all established friends) find themselves having to work together once more, when something strange happens whilst camping in the woods. Miles from home, and in fact miles from anywhere, their adventure starts when they stumble on a strange light . . . . . .
Renny, the techno buff, is a particularly well written character that I feel a lot of young people will relate to. He will encourage young readers to follow this adventure right to the very end.
This is a really easy book to read - full of action and heart stopping moments, it carries you towards the very explosive end. It's a cool read for young people that can be read as a stand alone book or as part of the series.
The next book in the series is Killer Star - I am definitely looking forward to reading this.
When Elliott and his brother, Ben, move into the old and crumbling Glebe House they don't expect to find themselves sharing it with ghosts. But soon sinister events are unfolding. An old diary reveals glimpses of the mansion's past - and of a terrible tragedy. A mysterious woman talks to the dead. And evil lurks in the East Wing - a hideous labyrinth of passageways devised by a truly twisted mind. Can Elliott and his family escape the clutches of Glebe House? Or will they be trapped in the maze of corridors, forever hunted by the dead?
I'm going to count to one hundred, I'm coming after you.........
I'm going to count to one hundred and I'm going to find you....
I'm going to count to one hundred and hunt you down.....
Let the hunt commence......
In the long distant past, I have read a number of books by this author but unfortunately, I have not really had much to say about them. However, this book, although well written like all the other books really connected with me. The plot is written in the style of an old-fashioned ghost tale. The more you read, the more the author inflicts a dark and chilling sinister world that will leave you chilled to the bone.
The book is delivered in a direct and no nonsense approach. It's very intense - I felt myself being sucked into the vortex of the twisted past of Glebe House and its former owner, Vincent Cullayn. Vincent, is like no other conventional ghost. He is drawn to this world by his desire for the hunt and the final kill of his victims. He feeds off their fear as this enables him to take on a more solid-like appearance. He receives help from a young ghost called Eve, who is particularly scary, as she entices Ben and Elliott into the East Wing - a maze of corridors, scary paintings and a great aura of the past.
I really enjoyed this book. I loved how the author tied up the different elements of the story, and yet continued to lead you further into the twisted realms of the plot. Another aspect that worked really well for me, were the diary extracts, which were revealed in small sharp bursts from the perspective of Theo, who leads you through the mystery of the story. He also brings both the past and the present together.
Perhaps the only small gripe that I have, about the book, is the ending. I felt that this did not fit the complex story as it was too straight forward. Nevertheless, I found the book to be a very enjoyable and captivating read. I would definitely recommend it, especially if you like to be scared to death ..... Beware, you have been warned.
This is one gothically funny series of books which will have you laughing out loud, or at the very least, making strange 'ark-like' bird noises.
The story is narrated by Edgar, a Raven, who is the Guardian of Otherhand Castle. A place full of odd ball characters that will have you following in pure amazement.
These are a great series of books to read to your children. Both young and old will enjoy the crazy antics of Valevine, Minty, Solstice and Cudweed. Each character will have your hair standing on end by the end of each book - they really are that crazy.
Five books (so far) have been published, with a sixth book due to be published in October 2011. These are great reads to brighten up your day - each book is decked out with superb illustrations by Pete Williamson. A name I wasn't too familiar with but one that I will now certainly be watching out for in the future.
B.K 1 - Flood and Fang Meet the wonderfully weird Otherhand family and their faithful guardian, Edgar the raven, and discover the dark secrets of Castle Otherhand. Edgar is alarmed when he sees a nasty looking black tail slinking under the castle walls. But his warnings to the inhabitants of the castle go unheeded: Lord Valevine Otherhand is too busy trying to invent the unthinkable and discover the unknowable; his wife, Minty, is too absorbed in her latest obsession - baking; and ten-year-old Cudweed is running riot with his infernal pet monkey. Only Solstice, the black-haired, poetry-writing Otherhand daughter, seems to pay any attention. As the lower storeys of the castle begin mysteriously to flood, and kitchen maids continue to go missing, the family come ever closer to the owner of the black tail...
B.K 2 Ghost and Gadgets Join the wonderfully weird Otherhand family and their faithful guardian, Edgar the raven, and discover the dark secrets of Castle Otherhand. The rumblings and wailings from the Lost South Wing can no longer be ignored, as one by one, members of the castle are being found frozen, 'scared to death'. With mother, Minty, obsessing over her latest fad - sewing - and father, Valevine, busy experimenting with a machine to discover the Lost Otherhand treasure, it's up to aspiring ghost-hunters Solstice and Cudweed to solve the mystery. But as usual, things don't go quite as planned... It's just as well Edgar is there to save the day!
B.k 3 Lunatics and Luck oin the wonderfully weird Otherhand family and their faithful guardian, Edgar the raven, and discover the dark secrets of Castle Otherhand. Solstice and Cudweed are appalled to find their father has appointed a new school master. But things get even worse when the grumpy, viciously mean teacher actually arrives. The Otherhand children are sure there's something more to him than meets the eye - the trouble is, who will believe them? No one it seems. Except, perhaps, Edgar.
B.K 4 Vampires and Volts Join the wonderfully weird Otherhand family and their faithful guardian, Edgar the raven, and discover the dark secrets of Castle Otherhand. It's Halloween and the Otherhands are enjoying the Annual Pumpkin Hunt. And there are preparations to be made for the Great Halloween Ball. Minty is all a-fluster. Solstice is busy spraying fake cobwebs everywhere. Valevine is in charge of disorganising everyone's carefully laid plans, and Cudweed seems hungrier than ever and oddly preoccupied with 'fresh brains'. In fact when Silas, Valevine's long lost brother, turns up with Samantha, the Otherhands would be well-advised to check out their guests. It's not long before wily Edgar works out that there's a preponderance of vampires and not all of them have false teeth...
B.K 5 Magic and Mayhem Join the wonderfully weird Otherhand family and their faithful guardian, Edgar the raven, and discover the dark secrets of Castle Otherhand. A trip to the circus has far-reaching consequences for the Otherhands when Fellah goes missing. Before long the Castle is plagued by a duck, a suspect fortune teller, and several cartloads of lethal cabbages. The family is preoccupied: Valevine is busy inventing a cabbage-counting machine; Minty is waiting to hear the secrets of the universe; and Solstice has discovered that Cudweed is concealing three hundred and forty-two rabbits in his bedroom. When chaos strikes and thieves infiltrate the Castle, it falls to Edgar to extract his family from a very fluffy predicament.
Martyn Bedford - Flip - Published by Wendy Lamb Books - 5 April 2011
One December night, 14-year-old Alex goes to bed. He wakes up to find himself in the wrong bedroom, in an unfamiliar house, in a different part of the country, and it's the middle of June. Six months have disappeared overnight. The family at the breakfast table are total strangers.
And when he looks in the mirror, another boy's face stares back at him. A boy named Flip. Unless Alex finds out what's happened and how to get back to his own life, he may be trapped forever inside a body that belongs to someone else.
Questions of identity, the will to survive, and what you're willing to sacrifice to be alive make this extraordinary book impossible to put down.
Alison Goodman - Eona Bk2 - Published by Viking - April 29 2011
Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon's army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona's power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled "Emperor" Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power - and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans. . . .
Tray Drago - The Undertakers:Rise of the Corpses - Published by Source Books - 1 April 2011
On a sunny Wednesday morning in October, a day that would mark the end of one life and the beginning of another, I found out my grouchy next door neighbor was the walking dead. When you turn around expecting to see something familiar, and instead see something else altogether, it takes a little while for your brain to catch up with your eyes. I call it the 'Holy Crap Factor.'" Forced to flee his home and family, twelve-year-old Will Ritter falls in with the Undertakers-a rag-tag army of teenage resistance fighters who've banded together to battle the Corpses.
Giants live on top of Mount Grumble, hidden from humans below. But not all of them are giant-like.Muncle Trogg is so small that he’s laughed at by the others for being human-sized. Fed up, he decides to take a look at the Smallings that he’s meant to look like. But what he discovers is very surprising!
Winner of The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2010.
An affectionate and charming upside down fairytale, this is the magical story of the residents of Misty Mountain and the tiny giant who saves the day.
Exciting and laugh-out-loud funny, and filled with joyful illustrations.
First in a series of adventures starring Muncle, Emily and Snarg, the dragon.
Perfect for readers aged 7+
For anyone who loved Cressida Cowell’s, How to Train Your Dragon.
Small Extract to get your dragon's teeth into........'
The only light in the Troggs’ underground home came from Ma’s fire.Now it threw the shadow of a larger-than-life Gritt on to the rocky wall, with a much-too-small Muncle dangling helplessly from his hand.
‘Ma!’ Muncle yelled again.His shadow swung wildly to and fro.
This sort of thing made him feel smaller than ever.At twelve he should have been able to stand up for himself.But at the moment he couldn’t stand up at all.Gritt had him firmly by the ankles.It wouldn’t have been so bad if Gritt had been his older brother, but Gritt was four years younger.
‘Ma!’He was going to be sick if he stayed upside down much longer.It was a good thing Pa wasn’t home yet.Pa always took Gritt’s side.Gritt was the sort of son a giant could be proud of.
The Federation of Children’s Book Groups is delighted to announce that it will be starting a children’s book forum for adults over social networking site Twitter. The aim of the forum is for librarians, teachers, bloggers and anyone else interested in children’s books the chance to talk about new releases, favourites and anything else of interest surrounding children’s books.
Off the back of the success of both World Book Day and World Book Night, which saw Twitter being used to share experiences, advice and generally to talk about books, this forum will provide book lovers with an interactive social book group.
The Federation has always been forward thinking in the ways it encourages people to read. By running this forum it is hoped that fans of children’s books will have a way to share opinions, new books and to talk about children’s books and their love for them.
The forum will run every fortnight on a Sunday evening between 8pm and 9pm and will be hosted by the Federation @FCBGChair. Using the hashtag #fcbgbkgrp chat will be directed by the participants but at certain times of the year a theme will be suggested. For instance during the month of May it is National Share A Story Month so the theme may be the best books to share with your child. In November to celebrate National Non Fiction Day we will also theme it towards non fiction books.
The opportunities this provides are endless and with nothing similar already happening on Twitter for children’s books this provides book lovers the opportunity to interact with each other in a shared interest around children’s books.
The launch date for the first forum is 20th March 2011 and every other Sunday from then.
For further information about the Twitter Book Forum, please contact Adam Lancaster.
Philip Reeve - Scrivener's Moon (Mortal Engines) - Published by Scholastic - 7 April 2011 In a future land once known as Britain, nomad tribes are preparing to fight a terrifying enemy - the first-ever mobile city. Before London can launch itself, young engineer Fever Crumb must journey to the wastelands of the North. She seeks the ancient birthplace of the Scriven mutants. In the chaotic weeks before battle begins, Fever finds a mysterious black pyramid. The extraordinary secrets it contains will change her world forever. The seventh awe-inspiring adventure in the World of Mortal Engines series by a superb writer at the height of his powers.
Michael Grant - Plague (Gone) - Published by Egmont - 4 April 2011
This is a blood-pumping, white-knuckle sci-fi thriller of epic proportions. The FAYZ goes from bad to worse...The darkness has been foiled once again and the resurrected Drake has been contained. But the streets of Perdido Beach are far from safe, with a growing army of mutants fighting against the humans for power in the town. In a small room of a house near the edge of town, Little Pete lies ill on a bed. In his fevered dreams, he continues his battle with the hidden evil that seeks to use his power to bring about anarchy and destruction.
Daniel has dark secrets and a troubled past. So when his family move to the island of Wragge, a gentle backwater where local life remains undisturbed he feels he’s escaped. But outsiders aren’t always welcome and the more Daniel tries to conceal, the more he reveals about sinister goings on. Does this picture perfect community have something even greater to hide?
When this book found its way into my hands, I had no idea what the book was about. Sometimes, I find that it's good not to read the synopsis on the back of the cover, and instead to go in unknowingly. Interestingly, the book cover also reveals very few secrets as to the story inside, so I really did turn to the first page with little knowledge. However, I soon found myself uncovering a world of intrigue and mystery . . . . .
When Daniel's family move to an idyllic new life, on the remote Island of Wragge, unfortunately things are not quiet right. It's too perfect. However, something sinister lies underneath this facade.
The author sets out the story from the very first page. As a result, it stays in the back of your mind to the very end. The flashback at the very beginning sets the tone through a very telling brief encounter. This leads into a mysterious past which collides with an even more mysterious future!
The story is fast paced and very well written. I really enjoyed this book and soon felt myself becoming one of the characters. I really was living and breathing the story through Daniel. As him, I was analysing and predicting events through the different clues. Some of these came courtesy of a few timely flashbacks, whilst others were much more subtle. However, what was clearly evident, was the energy that oozed through the writing. The sinister and creepy events left you, at times, clutching the surface with the very tips of your fingernails. This book certainly delivered some timely twists and turns.
I felt that this was really quite a challenging read through the real-life questions that were posed. Whilst these may be issues teenagers face everyday. It also questioned other issues including having a false sense of happiness and what it's like not to feel any emotions. In fact, to be devoid of any emotional capacity. This is a cracking classic which will leave you breathless. Buy yourself a copy, read it and then let the time simply ebb away.
My thanks to the good people at HarperCollins for sending me the book.
Welcome to the fifth stop of the extensive Katherine Langrish 'West of the Moon' blog tour. Today, is actually the official publication date for the release of "West of the Moon". This book combines all three of the original Troll stories, in just one handy, Troll-size book. Although it has been adapted slightly, just a few tweaks here and there, it still retains the magically captivating story, but with a fresh new look and feel. Today's post is all about creating worlds. Read about Katherine's interesting musings into the many different worlds that have been created.
All fiction is about creating worlds, of course, and each of these worlds is distinctive, personal. Take Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens. Their versions of Victorian England are quite different, even when they’re talking about the same kinds of thing. Dotheboys Hall in ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ and ‘Lowood Institution’ in Jane Eyre are both highly unpleasant schools – both even contain abused, tubercular pupils who befriend the main character and later die in their arms – but they inhabit totally different fictional universes. You can’t imagine taking a journey from Bleeding Heart Yard to Thornfield Hall. Mr Rochester’s mad wife is no Miss Havisham. And no matter how I try, I can’t imagine Jane Eyre meeting Mr Micawber.
So all fiction is about creating worlds – but fantasy writers come straight out and admit it. We don’t even try to deceive you. How could we? You know that unicorns and dragons, werewolves and vampires, orcs and trolls and elves, do not exist and never have existed. So what’s the point of it all? Why on earth do we write it? Why do some of you – quite a lot of you, actually – want to read it?
Surely because fantasy is no more and no less a pack of lies than any other type of fiction. Or to put it the other way around, the truths of good fantasy are exactly the same as the truths of all good fiction: emotional truths about characters, about situations, about life.
And because it’s fun sometimes to leave the mundane behind, to stretch the imagination a little further, and to say not just, ‘What if there was a boy, and one foggy day he met an escaped convict in a graveyard and was terrified into helping him’ (you can argue the case for a strong fantasy element in Dickens) but also, ‘What if there was a hobbit, and one day in late summer he found out he owned the most dangerous object in the universe – a ring of power – and had to leave his comfortable world behind and journey to destroy it?’
It’s fun to try and create self-consistent secondary worlds, in much the same way as it’s fun to construct a model railway with diminutive hills and valleys, bridges and cuttings and stations, and to put little people on the platforms, holding rolled up newspapers, and briefcases, and handbags. It’s fun, and then it becomes serious, because in fiction you can bring the little people to life. You bring them to life, and watch that man help that woman get a smut out of her eye, and before you know it, they’re falling in love and holding agonised discussions over cups of tea in the station café, and breaking one another’s hearts and parting forever.
You can have emotional truth in a secondary world even when that world is full of impossible things. When Aslan dies in Narnia; when Ged, in ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’, summons the spirit of Elfarran from the dead, and we know that he has done an abominable thing out of arrogance and pride; when Lyra finds out the terrible truth about what happens to the children and their daemons in the Bolvangar Experimental Station – these are not lies.
In my own fantasies, in my own way, I too do my best to tell the truth. In ‘West of the Moon’, (the new omnibus edition of my ‘Troll’ trilogy set in the Viking age), I wanted a hero who wasn’t in any sense the Chosen One. Rather, Peer Ulfsson is a sort of Everyman. He has no particular talents, apart from being a good carpenter. He isn’t a great swordsman or fighter. He can’t do magic. He’s good-looking, but nothing out of the ordinary. What he does have is tremendous integrity and a basic goodness – which can get him into trouble.
The Viking age was a violent one. The Icelandic sagas are full of ‘heroes’ you really wouldn’t want to have living next door to you – real leaders of men, good with swords, equally good at quips and jokes and off-the-cuff poems – charismatic multiple murderers who today would be locked up in high-security prisons. Reading the sagas, I wondered at our ability to romanticise not just the past, but the present too. A sword is no better than a gun: both are meant for killing.
How, I wondered, would Peer – or any of us – cope, if he were to meet a real ‘hero with a sword’? From this was born my anti-hero, Peer’s nemesis, the handsome young killer Harald Silkenhair. Why do we admire warriors – heroes like James Bond, whose message seems to be that you have to fight fire with fire, ruthlessness with ruthlessness? What is the nature of this romantic obsession we all have with violence? In ‘West of the Moon’ I found myself seriously exploring some of these questions.
I'd like to thank Katherine for providing a fantastic post for this site. I'd also like to thank everybody who's visited this post as part of the blog tour. I hope you enjoyed the opportunity to gain an insight into the creation of so many different worlds. The next port of call on the blog tour isscribblecitycentral.blogspot.com
Welcome to Day 2 of Chris Priestley's blog tour to promote the re-issue of the three Tales of Terror books in paperback. I was fortunate enough to read these when they were first published and have been a fan ever since. However, these newly published books have added bonus material that the earlier books didn't contain. Therefore, if this doesn't tempt you, then read below to find a feast of fantastical insights into the Tales of Terror which surely will instead.
About five or six years ago, I was asked if I would like to come up with a spooky series for younger children. ‘Sure,’ I said. ‘I can do that’.
But it turned out that I couldn’t. That is, I could come up with lots of ideas that I thought they might like, but nothing that I actually wanted to put my name to. I had no urge to get all Scooby-Doo. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I either wanted to write something genuinely scary or I didn’t want to do it at all.
I had always loved creepy short stories – not just horror stories, but sci-fi and fantasy; everything from Saki to Kafka, M R James to Ray Bradbury. Many of these writers are unclassifiable. Or at least they refuse to be constrained by bookshop boundaries. I’ve always sought out writers like that and I am a big fan of what one might call ‘uncanny’ stories.
I had notebooks full of my own stories – or rather the bones of stories, waiting for the flesh to be put on. They had all been conceived with adults in mind, but looking at them again I could see them working with child protagonists. . .
And so, Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror came into being. He is called Uncle Montague as a nod towards M R James (Montague Rhodes James) and the idea of having a narrator came from various portmanteau horror movies I saw in my teens. Dead of Night is probably my favourite.
Television was as big an influence on the Tales of Terror as anything I read. The Lawrence Gordon Clark adaptations of M R James had a big impact on me when I saw them as teenager. Movies like The Innocents and The Haunting – movies that I first saw on TV as a teenager, were models of the kind of effect I was trying achieve.
The setting for Tales of the Tunnel’s Mouth is a lift from the BBC’s adaptation of Dickens’ The Signalman, another Lawrence Gordon Clark mini-masterpiece.
The Tales of Terror series owe their existence to a lifetime’s addiction to the weird and uncanny in comics, books, television and movies. I hope I’ve shared some of that passion with you and I hope my readers may seek out some of those books and movies that so inspired me.
Thanks to Ian at Bloomsbury for including my site in this blog tour and for Chris in writing such a great post. I hope it inspires you all to pick up this series of books and read some spooky shenanigans. Go on if you dare ....!