Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books: Young Adult/Teens Book Picks US - January 2020


Scott Reintgen - Ashlords - Published by Crown Books for Young Readers (January 21, 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-0593119174 - Hardback - Age: 11+

Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races in this epic fantasy following three phoenix horse riders--skilled at alchemy--who must compete at The Races--the modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their empire.

Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they've raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.

Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That's all legal and encouraged. 

In this year's Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest--a champion's daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary's son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?


Matt Killeen - Devil Darling Spy - Published by Viking Books for Young Readers (January 21, 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-0451479259 - Hardback - Age: 11+

In this utterly gripping thriller, Sarah, the fearless heroine of indie bestseller Orphan Monster Spy, hunts a rogue German doctor in Central Africa who might be a serial murderer.

It's 1940, and Sarah Goldstein is hiding in plain sight as Ursula Haller, the Shirley Temple of Nazi high society. She helps the resistance by spying on Nazi generals at cocktail parties in Berlin, but she yearns to do more. Then the spy she works for, the Captain, gets word of a German doctor who's gone rogue in Central Africa. Rumors say the doctor is experimenting with a weapon of germ warfare so deadly it could wipe out entire cities. It's up to the Captain and Sarah to reach the doctor and seize this weapon--known as "the Bleeding"--before the Nazis can use it to murder thousands. Joining them on their journey, in of the guise of a servant, is Clementine, a half-German, half-Senegalese girl, whose wit and ferocity are a perfect match for Sarah's. As they travel through the areas now known as the Republic of the Congo and Gabon, Clementine's astute observations force Sarah to face a hard truth: that mass extermination didn't start with the Nazis. 

This unbearably high-stakes thriller pushes Sarah to face the worst that humanity is capable of--and challenges her to find reasons to keep fighting.



Francesca Flores - Diamond City: A Novel - Published by Wednesday Books (January 28, 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-1250220448 - Hardback - Age: 11+

Good things don't happen to girls who come from nothing...unless they risk everything.
Fierce and ambitious, Aina Solís as sharp as her blade and as mysterious as the blood magic she protects. After the murder of her parents, Aina takes a job as an assassin to survive and finds a new family in those like her: the unwanted and forgotten. 
Her boss is brutal and cold, with a questionable sense of morality, but he provides a place for people with nowhere else to go. And makes sure they stay there.
DIAMOND CITY: built by magic, ruled by tyrants, and in desperate need of saving. It is a world full of dark forces and hidden agendas, old rivalries and lethal new enemies. 
To claim a future for herself in a world that doesn't want her to survive, Aina will have to win a game of murder and conspiracy―and risk losing everything. 
Full of action, romance, and dark magic, book one of Francesca Flores' breathtaking fantasy duology will leave readers eager for more!


Kiersten White - Chosen (2) (Slayer) - Published by Simon Pulse (January 7, 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-1534404984 - Hardback - Age: 10+

 

Nina continues to learn how to use her slayer powers against enemies old and new in this second novel in the New York Times bestselling series from Kiersten White, set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Now that Nina has turned the Watcher’s Castle into a utopia for hurt and lonely demons, she’s still waiting for the utopia part to kick in. With her sister Artemis gone and only a few people remaining at the castle—including her still-distant mother—Nina has her hands full. Plus, though she gained back her Slayer powers from Leo, they’re not feeling quite right after being held by the seriously evil succubus Eve, a.k.a. fake Watcher’s Council member and Leo’s mom.

And while Nina is dealing with the darkness inside, there’s also a new threat on the outside, portended by an odd triangle symbol that seems to be popping up everywhere, in connection with Sean’s demon drug ring as well as someone a bit closer to home. Because one near-apocalypse just isn’t enough, right? 

The darkness always finds you. And once again, it’s coming for the Slayer.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Guest Post by By Emma Read - The Pen is Mightier than the Sword (or – What’s the Deal with Children’s Writing Competitions?)



By Emma Read 

It may seem anathema to some to consider writing a competitive sport, but as someone who was a committed comp-addict (and now handles the FOMO by reading and judging comps), I’m here to share some insights from both sides of that gleaming, shiny trophy.


Why enter?

Why indeed? The 2018 Bath Children’s Novel Award received 791 entries, from all over the globe. It’s not the best odds.

Then again, someone has to win –right?

For me, it was never about coming first. It was the hope of listing – gaining something useful to add to my somewhat thin query letter (smashing that mask-making competition at the library, age five, wasn’t cutting it). If your goal is making the longlist, or even getting a notable mention, the odds are vastly improved, especially if you’ve got a well-polished manuscript.

But still – odds are you will fail ... and that’s also a really good reason to enter.

Wait ... what?

I have failed to list in plenty of competitions and it hurts. Especially when you’ve done the homework, determined that your work is precisely what the judges are looking for, polished your manuscript to a high shine, and still the answer is a resounding NO. It’s the same sort of no you get when your dream agent doesn’t make a full request, or when you don’t sell on submission, or when your book isn’t on the tables in Waterstones, or listed in any of the annual awards. This is the writer’s life and for me, it helped to get used to it right from the start.




Failing in competitions is practice. Practice at moving on, practice at failing again.

Being a competition enthusiast comes with other benefits too (more fun than being rejected, I promise), especially if you have a supportive writing group to share the fun with. 

(Top Tip: find a supportive writing group!)

Entering comps for us was a team sport. We carried each other come victory or defeat and boosted one another on to the next. Success for an individual felt like a success for the team and there were plenty of vicarious celebrations.
Competitions also provide meaningful deadlines, reasons to improve and sometimes even feedback. And perhaps, most importantly for me, it was a push to get my work ‘out there’. To get over my squeamishness at the thought of someone else reading my words. To normalise the fear of being judged. 


On the other hand...

Being hooked on competitions can have its downsides – the most obvious being the cost. Most (but not all) competitions come with a serious entry fee, which pays for the prizes, admin, and the colossal number of hours required to read/judge/provide feedback on the entries (791 is feeling like a REALLY BIG number now!) Multiple fees across the year can quickly add up and even the cheapest entry requirements can prohibit writers from entering. (If this sounds familiar, do look out for sponsored entries for low-income writers, which many of the competitions offer).

It’s also important to remember that a competition listing, or even a win, doesn’t guarantee success. Whilst many on a longlist go on to find agents and subsequent publishing deals, many don’t – even winners. It’s a rollercoaster, just like the rest of publishing.

But forewarned is forearmed (with that mighty pen), so if you’re still keen ...  

Sign me up!

In no particular order, here are some of the competitions available to writers of children’s literature:


Twitter pitch contests: #revpit #Pitmad #DVpit #Pitdark #queryswap #querykombat #tellAMH #PitchCB

So if you do decide to enter, have fun, learn what you can and understand that any judging of creative art is subjective. 


Good Luck! 




Emma is the author of Milton the Mighty (Chicken House) and the upcoming sequel, Milton the Megastar. Under its working title, Milton was shortlisted for the Bath Children’s Novel Award and Emma has had success in a number of other writing competitions, including flash fiction and Twitter pitching.
She is now a reader and longlist judge for the Bath Novel and Bath Children’s Novel Awards, and for the WriteMentor Children’s Novel Award. She is also a mentor and tutor for WriteMentor https://write-mentor.com/ 

   




https://twitter.com/emmydee73


Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Book Picks Jan 2020


Ross Welford - The Kid Who Came from Space - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (9 Jan. 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-0008333782 - Paperback 
The stunning new 10+ story from the bestselling and award-winning author of TIME TRAVELLING WITH A HAMSTER, for anyone who loved the humour of WALL-E, the action of STAR WARS and the deeply touching emotion of ET.
A small village in the wilds of Northumberland is rocked by the disappearance of twelve-year-old Tammy. Only her twin brother, Ethan, knows she is safe – and the extraordinary truth of where she is. It is a secret he must keep, or risk never seeing her again.
But that doesn’t mean he’s going to give up.
Together with his friend Iggy and the mysterious (and very hairy) Hellyann, Ethan teams up with a spaceship called Philip, and Suzy the trained chicken, for a nail-biting chase to get his sister back… that will take him further than anyone has ever been before.

Tom McLaughlin - The Day I Started a Mega Robot Invasion - Walker Books (2 Jan. 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-1406389647 - Paperback - Age: 7+
A nine-year-old inventor is about to have her worst day ever in this laugh-a-minute mega-robot adventure!
Molly should be doing her homework, but instead, she builds a robot to do it for her. The robot is pretty clever ... so clever that it decides to make another robot. Then that robot makes another one. Before long, an army of slightly-too-clever-for-their-own-good robots are running around town causing chaos. But when robot number one gets wind of Molly’s plan to shut them down, the mechanical army set out to get rid of the humanoid once and for all. Now, Molly must race against time to stop the mega-robot invasion … and hand in her homework!

Anna Hoghton -  The Mask of Aribella - Published by Chicken House (2 Jan. 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-1912626106 - Paperback - Age: 9+

Perfect for fans of The Thief Lord!

Aribella lives in Venice, the daughter of an impoverished lace-maker. But she has a deadly secret: when angered, sparks shoot from her fingertips. Unable to keep her power hidden, she flees - but when dark spectres rise from the lagoon, the fire in her hands saves her life. A stranger witnesses the attack - and through him, Aribella leaves her old life behind and discovers the world of the Cannovacci, magical warriors sworn to defeat the strange spectres menacing the city ...

Nick East - Agent Weasel and the Abominable Dr Snow: Book 2 - Published by Hodder Children's Books (23 Jan. 2020) - ISBN-13: 978-1444945300 - Paperback - Age: 7+
Meet Agent Weasel: woodland super-spy. Can he save the Big Freeze winter games from disaster? And will there be enough marshmallows for another hot chocolate? Perfect for reading alone or sharing together, for fans of The Bolds and Toto the Ninja Cat.
It's the opening night of the Winter Whopper Games, but all is not well in the United Woodlands. Top animal athletes are disappearing, and there are whispers of a silent snow beast on the prowl. 
It's time to call Agent Weasel, woodland super-spy. Can he and his trusty dormouse friend Doorkins find out the secrets of Blanche, their mysterious team-mate? Will Weasel be able to compete for a golden fir cone without falling over his own feet? Will there be enough marshmallows and sprinkles for another hot chocolate? Who knows? 
But rest assured: even on the darkest and snowiest of nights, Agent Weasel always gets his animal. 
This is the second in the rib-ticklingly funny Agent Weasel series, with glorious illustrations throughout. Check out book one: Agent Weasel and the Fiendish Fox Gang.


Monday, 6 January 2020

Alastair Chisholm - Orion Lost - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books


The first book not to be missed this year is Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm. This story is a brilliant blend of Sci-Fi goodness which is perfect for fans of both Star Wars and Star Trek. The book will be published this week (9th January 2020) by Nosy Crow. Therefore, it's time to grab your boarding pass and take your first journey into a fantasy world that will have you booked and hooked. It's a middle-grade adventure that will have you rocketing out of the orbit in minutes.

Earth is a distant spot on the horizon, millions of miles from home. The Colony ship ORION is four months out of Earth on the way to EOS FIVE when a sudden and unexpected turn of events occurs.  This plunges the plot into MYSTERY as you hurtle into a non-stop action-packed ride. Thirteen-year-old Beth and her friends have to navigate the heavily damaged ship, without the help of an adult crew, as they spin out into uncharted territory. Fortunately, the children pull together using their strengths and skills to try and help them get back home. 

Many of the concepts and ideas in this book I particularly loved. For example, the crew making jumps through space which required all the passengers to be put to sleep. This really gave a fresh angle to the story. The characters were brilliantly written; some of them were gutsy and resourceful as they created a realistic approach to situations. However, there were also lots of fun moments to be had. 

This is definitely one of the best books, within this genre, that I have read for some time. It is a much-needed read that allows you to easily escape and be transported into another world and time. The atmospheric story is full of energy, space pirates, alien encounters and friendships. It's a life-changing adventure which is a million miles from home and it's all awaiting you, the reader, to engage in it from your comfy armchair. So, why not give it a try today - fun impacters on and full-throttle away! 



Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books - Festive Book Gifts 2019

Hayao Miyazaki - My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel - Published by Viz Media (Fantastic short novel based on the classic Film)

The beloved animation classic by legendary Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki, My Neighbor Totoro is now retold in novel form. This prestige, hardcover edition features original illustrations by Miyazaki himself, accompanying a story written by veteran children's book author Tsugiko Kubo. Sure to delight both existing fans and new readers! Eleven-year-old Satsuki and her sassy little sister Mei have moved to the country to be closer to their ailing mother. While their father is working, the girls explore their sprawling old house and the forest and fields that surround it. Soon, Satsuki and Mei discover Totoro, a magical forest spirit who takes them on fantastic adventures through the trees and the clouds--and teaches them a lesson about trusting one another.



Quentin Blake & Emma Chichester Clark’s - Three Little Monkeys Ride Again- HarperCollins Children's Books (3 Oct. 2019) - Hardback - Age: 3-5 

A remarkable collaboration – that brings together giants of the picture book world – to create a funny, anarchic and utterly delightful picture book. A classic of the future.
Beep! Beep! The three little monkeys are back in an irresistible new story!
Hilda Snibbs is taking her three mischievous monkeys to visit her mother in the country. But what is supposed to be a calm and peaceful holiday is soon filled with chaos and hilarious havoc!
Quentin Blake’s delightfully funny story is brought to life by Emma Chichester Clark’s beautiful mixed-media illustration in this landmark follow up to Three Little Monkeys.


Rob Biddulph - Odd Dog Out - Published by HarperCollins (3 Dec. 2019) - Hardback  - Age: 4-8

A heartwarming and poignant story from award-winning creator Rob Biddulph about the power of embracing your true colors. Perfect for fans of Peter Brown's Tiger Goes Wild.
It's a dog's life in the big, busy city, but there's one lonely pup who doesn't quite fit in. She behaves differently from the rest, sports rainbow in a sea of gray, and marches to the beat of her own drum. 
She's one Odd Dog.
Join Odd Dog as she journeys to the other side of the world to find her place in it, only for her to discover that maybe she's meant to be right where she started.
And check out Rob Biddulph's other books for children, including: 
Blown Away
The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR!


Various - The Phoenix Colossal Comics Collection, Volume Three 

David Fickling Books;(25 Dec. 2019) - Paperback - Age: 8-12 

A stunning full-color bind-up of content from the amazing Phoenixcomic. From humor to adventure to nonfiction to puzzles to the just plain awesome, this bind-up is a smorgasbord for everyone.

Behold! The third epic compendium in The Phoenix Colossal Comics Collection is here!
Race across the country with the fastest girl in the land; follow the misadventures of a beefy barbarian chef; embark on a crazy odyssey through ancient Greece, alongside its hopeless hero. 
From humor, to adventure, to non-fiction, to puzzles, to the just plain awesome, this bind-up is a smorgasbord for everyone.

Jon Klassen's Hat Box - Candlewick Press (3 Oct. 2019) - Age: 3-7

Multiple award-winning and bestselling author Jon Klassen's acclaimed and bestselling hat trilogy is now available for the first time as a hardback boxed set.
The bear's hat is gone, and he wants it back. A fish has stolen a hat; will he get away with it? Two turtles have found one hat, but the hat looks good on both of them... Jon Klassen's deliciously deadpan hat tales continue to surprise and delight readers of all ages, and they are all now available in one beautiful boxed set along with an exclusive frameable print. Included are:
I Want My Hat Back
This Is Not My Hat
We Found a Hat


Monday, 16 December 2019

FINAL WINNER OF MR RIPLEY'S BOOK COVER WARS 2019/2020


Mr. Ripley's Book Cover War final 2019/20 has now come to an exciting end. After five exciting heats, we now have another fantastic winner ....... 

I would like to thank everyone who has supported the book cover wars. I hope that you have enjoyed it as much as we have. It's been very exciting and thrilling to see the love for children's book covers. 

I would like to thank everyone who has taken part and supported this long-running competition. Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Wars was started to give credit to the unsung heroes of some of our favourite book covers and the creative teams and people behind them. I hope we've done that HERE. 

Altogether, over 3,400 votes were cast over the last six weeks. Thank you all once again FOR VOTING. The winner of the £10 Book Voucher and mystery book will be announced on Twitter later tonight. 


Anyway, without further ado, I'd like to award the title of 'Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars - Book Cover of the Year 2019/2020 to . . . . . . .  
  

Joan Haig - Tiger Skin Rug - Published by Cranachan Publishing (6 Feb. 2020). Book Cover Designed by Annie Glennie - Congratulations to another worthy winner. 

This book cover will be placed in the Ripley's Hall of Fame where it will accompany the following past winners: 


2009/10 - Jon Mayhew 'Mortlock' illustrated by Christian Lorenz Scheurer
2010/11 - Darren Shan 'Birth of a Killer' illustrated by David Wyatt

2011/12 - Curtis Jobling 'Werewolf: Shadow of the Hawk' illustrated by Andrew Farley
2012/13 - Thomas Taylor 'Haunters' illustrated by Steve Wells 
2013/14 - Niel Bushnell 'Timesmith' illustrated by James Fraser 
2014/15 - M. G. Harris/Gerry Anderson's 'Gemini Force One' Black Horizon illustrated by Blacksheep
2015/16 -  M. G. Leonard 'Beetle Boy' illustrated by Julia Sarda 
2018/19 - Vashti Hardy 'Brightstorm: A Sky-Ship Adventure' illustrated by George Ermos 

Guest Post by Samuel Perrett - Senior Fiction Designer – Hachette Children’s Group.

Welcome to the fantastic guest post by Samuel Perrett, who is the Senior fiction designer at Hachette Children’s Group. This post takes a look at the production and design of Bex Hogan's Viper/Venom books. It shows the final choice and the process that is undertaken before the final decision is made about the resulting book cover. This decision can make or break a book, so it is vitally important to get it right. In this case, they have done a brilliant job with the design and production of each book in the series so far. 

 “So… Do You Draw the Pictures?” 

Quite often when I meet people for the first time and they ask what I do, and say “I design children’s books”, the response is usually, “So … do you draw the pictures?”. This is understandable, as often ‘children’s books’ conjures up images of picture books, however, the world of children’s publishing is so broad. Ranging from preschool board books, picture books, and activity books through to illustrated chapter books, middle-grade fiction, young adult epics, and graphic novels. 


The role of the designer is to conceptualise, commission and create; with each book bringing different challenges and requirements. It is a big task to create a book cover because as much as we are told not to, we are all guilty of judging a book by its cover. Not to mention each designer has their own way of working, different processes to visualise their ideas. To help showcase my particular process for designing a cover, I have chosen to focus on the cover for Bex Hogan’s ‘Viper’, which published in April and is the first book in the Isles of Storm and Sorrow series. A thrilling and fast-paced fantasy YA novel, that follows the story the strong and courageous, Marianne. 



Like all projects, I started with a brief from the editor. Which contains information such as the plot, the feel-and-tone of the book and any other stand-out elements. The key themes of the book were; fantasy, adventure, danger, and (a hint of) magic. From that, I created loose ‘thumbnail’ drawings of cover concepts. Thinking about the composition of the image, the structure or hierarchy of the information and how to incorporate the key themes. 

Then some of the thumbnails were worked into concepts. They are still rough and unfinished, but this is part of my process to see how the idea looks when it is more ‘fleshed out’ and less of scribble on the page. 



The first concept showcased an inky dual image of Marianne in the snake’s mouth and was discarded pretty quickly. It is the starting of a narrative-led yet abstract design that had energy and movement with the textured brushstrokes. Even at this rough stage and with some of the details missing, I felt the concept would struggle to carry across the rest of the series and would require too much decoding by the reader to understand the premise of the book. With the cover having such a big pull in shops, and especially online, having an image that requires too much work to understand will never work, particularly when designing for children. 






These two concepts are more worked-up than the first and contain elements that informed the final cover. The artwork is created using some vectors from the image library, Shutterstock, that have been edited and with extra artwork I created. Both of these take a more decorative approach whilst keeping a sense of danger and adventure. 

After presenting these concepts to the editor along with the sales and the marketing teams, I had feedback to have more focus and give a greater sense of fantasy. 


The final concept is the response to that feedback. Having a single snake hissing for focus and giving a sense of danger, wrapping it around the compass to nod towards the journey/adventure. Adding in the sea and the starts to suggest the nautical setting, whilst keeping the visuals very graphic and decorative, so the silver and gold foil that I had planned added to the notion of magic. 

All of the elements were working well together, however, the hierarchy of the title and branding still needed work. In this concept Bex’s name, the series title and the title are holding very similar weighting. It was decided to keep Bex’s name at the top and to lead with the title, rather than the series title. I needed to find lettering to really make the title stand out and be able to echo the key themes of the book. 



This is a selection of the fonts that I looked at (there were plenty more), along with the base font that I started with and then edited for the final cover. Each has a different feel to them; some felt too fussy and they would conflict with the decorative nature of the cover; whilst others were too hard to read when small. The font that I ultimately selected has a slight nod towards being ‘pirate-like’ and is strong and bold. I then edited the letters to have more fluidity and movement and add some extra flourishes. (Such as a subtle ‘fang’ on the ‘R’ to echo the one already on the top of the ‘V’. This is something that can be taken as purely decorative or potentially go unnoticed, but it’s always fun to add a little something extra when the time is right.) 


Once the type was resolved and extra elements like the border were naturally added to balance out of the overall composition, the cover was complete. Thankfully, the author was very happy with the final design and then the cover was revealed. The printed books are finished with gold and silver foil giving them a luxurious shine that really stands out on the shelves. 


As mentioned previously, when designing the first book in a new series, there is always the thought in the back of your head about how the visual language of book one will translate to books two and beyond. With Viper it has such a strong structure that creating the cover for Venom was thankfully pretty straightforward. Keeping the key elements like the compass and the border, my focus was more on finding a way to incorporate all the new elements whilst ensuring the covers look different to each other, but still part of the same family.


So, to round off, do I draw the pictures? Sometimes yes, but sometimes no. More-often-than-not I get the privilege to work with incredibly talented illustrators who are able to bring new worlds and characters to life. But, no matter how the artwork is created, every cover comes the aim to refine the authors' words into one powerful image that can capture the attention and imagination of a reader.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Festive Guest Post - Amy Ephron - The Other Side of the Wall - Tess & Max’s Top Ten Favorite Things about London at Christmastime


Today on Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books we have a wonderful guest post by Los Angeles based author Amy Ephron. We're going to take a winter festive walk with Max and Tess looking at their top favourite things to do in London at Christmas time.  

What would you do? 

Check out the post for inspiration and take a walk on The Other Side. If you would like to read my book review then please click the link below. Thank you for reading and have a GREAT Christmas. 
                             
                            The Other Side of the Wall by Amy Ephron
            Philomel Books | Hardcover ISBN: 9781984813275 | $16.99 |Ages 8-12
                     Mr. Ripleys Enchanted Books - BOOK REVIEW HERE
                                              
                                               ABOUT THE BOOK:
In this new adventure with Tess and Max, internationally bestselling author Amy Ephron takes readers to London at Christmastime, where a new fantastical journey awaits.

It’s Christmas break and Tess and Max are in London, staying at the posh Sanborn House with their Aunt Evie. As they wait for their parents to arrive, there is an unusual snowstorm that makes the city seem as if it's caught in a snow globe. Perfect weather for an adventure in Hyde Park. But when Max, Tess, and Aunt Evie leave to search for a cab, they find a horse and carriage and driver curiously waiting for them at the curb. And that's just the beginning...

Soon Tess is charmed by a mysterious boy named Colin who lives at the hotel all year round--on the 8th floor. But Max is sure the elevator only had 7 floors the day before. And how come everyone at the hotel seems to ignore Colin? Things seem to get stranger and stranger. There's a 1920s costume party in Colin's parents' apartment. A marble that seems to be more than it appears. And a shadow that passes mysteriously by Tess and Max's hotel window.

Tess & Max’s Top Ten Favorite Things about London at Christmastime

1. Ride the London Eye, the big Ferris wheel, and marvel at the Christmas decorations sparkling all over the city. (Hope Tess doesn’t have to rescue anyone.) 

2. Have tea at Harrods. (No Nutella, please.) 

3. Go to Hyde Park, especially if it’s lightly snowing. 

4. Watch the ceremony of the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. 

5. Shop at a bookstore and check out the mysteries as their Dad likes British mysteries. Check out the poetry section for something that would appeal to their mom. Persuade Aunt Evie that they both need new chapter books. Max might even distract Aunt Evie, while Tess buys a book about British birds and hides it in her backpack for Aunt Evie to open on Christmas, too. 

6. Go to Victoria skateboard park. Awesome 

7. Convince Aunt Evie to take a drive in the blue Bentley all the way to Hampton Court. And, once there, try to navigate their way through the maze. (Careful, you never know what’s on the other side.) 

8. Split a prime rib dinner on Sunday night at a fancy pub in London. 

9. Wander Kew Gardens at night on their amazing new dark walk and explore the “immersive light trail.” 

10. Go to Portobello Market, the outdoor antique fair, with Aunt Evie. Hope Aunt Evie magically finds another matching glass to the crystal one that was their grandmother’s. and Tess finds a snowball with a horse and driver and carriage inside and when you turn it up-side-down and turn it right again, it looks as if snowflakes are falling all around the carriage and the cobblestoned street.


                                         (Photo by Katrina Dickson)
   About the Author
Amy Ephron (www.amyephron.com) is the author of The Castle in the Mist, her first book for young readers, which was nominated for a SCIBA Award, and of Carnival Magic, a companion book. Amy has also written several adult books, including A Cup of Tea, which was an international bestseller. Her novel One Sunday Morning received the Booklist Best Fiction of the Year and Best Historical Fiction of the Year awards and was a Barnes and Noble Book Club selection. She is a contributor and contributing editor at Vogue and Vogue.com, and her work has appeared in numerous other publications. She was also the executive producer of Warner Brothers' A Little Princess. Amy lives in Los Angeles with her husband; between them, they have five children. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @amyephron.