Thursday, 29 September 2016

Now Open for Submissions: YA Book Prize 2017 (27th September - 1st December 2017)

We have come to the time of year when we are opening submissions for the YA Book Prize again. It’s amazing to think that we are already planning the third award, as it seems like it’s only been five minutes since we excitedly launched the prize because we wanted to support UKYA and the fantastic books being published in the UK and Ireland.

In such a short amount of time the prize has come so far. We’ve given the award to two fantastic books so far – Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill (Quercus)which was given the inaugural prize in 2015, and One by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury Children’s), which won this year.
Both authors are hugely successful within the YA field – O’Neill has since winning the YA Book Prize signed a big US film deal and a new publishing deal with Hachettte, and Crossan, already a huge name in children’s publishing, won the Carnegie Medal.

We really can’t wait to see which books publishers enter for the YA Book Prize 2017.
To be eligible, entries must be:
- Published either in hardback or paperback for the first time between 1st January and 31st December 2016
- A novel aimed at YA readers (16 and over)
- Written by an author resident in the UK or Ireland who was resident for at least six months prior to publication
This year, as with every year, we are looking for the books that YA readers are most likely to want to (A) read and (B) recommend to their friends. We also want a shortlist that is as diverse as possible – so please do send in a mix of genres and types of stories. We love contemporary YA but want to showcase different types of books, so if you have a horror or sci-fi YA, send it in!

To enter, all you have to do is fill in the form here with all the relevant details.
You will also need to send 10 copies of every book entered to The Bookseller, Crowne House, 56-58 Southwark Street,London, SE1 1UN.

The deadline for entries is 1st December 2016.
Full terms and conditions are on the YA Book Prize website, including marketing and publicity financial commitments for shortlisted books. If you have any queries please get in touch by emailing
The shortlist will be announced in the spring, and the winner will be revealed at the Hay Festival 2017.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Teens/Children's Fantastic Book Picks US Published September 2016 - Post One

Trenton Lee Stewart (Author) & Diana Sudyka (Illustrator) - The Secret Keepers - Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 27, 2016)
A heart-pounding mystery adventure laced with magic and humour by the author of the New York Times bestselling series, The Mysterious Benedict Society

A magical watch 
A string of secrets
A race against time

When Reuben discovers an extraordinary antique watch, he soon learns it has a secret power and his life takes an intriguing turn. At first he is thrilled with his new treasure, but as one secret leads to another, Reuben finds himself torn between his innately honest nature and the lure to be a hero.

Now he is on a dangerous adventure--full of curious characters, treacherous traps, and hairsbreadth escapes--as he races to solve the mystery before it is too late. Even with fearless Penny, mighty Jack, and the wise Mrs. Genevieve on his side, can Reuben outwit and outmaneuver the sly villain called The Smoke and his devious defenders the Directions and save the city from a terrible fate?

In this ingeniously crafted novel, acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Trenton Lee Stewart invites readers to join the adventure, decipher the clues, and ask themselves the question: Is knowing a secret a gift or a curse?
Lisa McMann - Going Wild - Published by HarperCollins Children's (September 27, 2016)
Spider-Man meets Animorphs in this thrilling new middle grade series from Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of the Unwanteds series. Newbery Medal–winning author Katherine Applegate calls Going Wild “gripping, action-packed, and filled with humor and heart.”
Charlie Wilde knew her life would change forever when her family moved from the city of Chicago to the suburbs of Arizona…and that was before she found the bracelet. After putting it on, she notices odd things start to happen. Suddenly Charlie seems to have the speed of a cheetah and the strength of an elephant—and that’s just the beginning. She would be thrilled about her transformation if she had any idea how to use the device or control her amazing powers. So Charlie is forced to put her trust in new friends to help her uncover the surprising truth behind the mysterious bracelet.
Going Wild is perfect for fans of Rick Riordan, Brandon Mull, and Ridley Pearson looking for a new twist on their middle grade adventures. This series blends science fiction with the animal kingdom, highlighting some of the incredible feats that animals can achieve, which might seem possible only in comic books but are actually completely true.
J. Scott Savage - Gears of Revolution (Mysteries of Cove) Published by Shadow Mountain (September 20, 2016)
After finding a compass and clues left by Kallista's father, Leo Babbage, Trenton and Kallista head west aboard their homemade mechanical dragon to search for the missing inventor. The two teenagers hope to find answers about their mountain city of Cove, but instead, they find only a blackened forest, ruined buildings, and a small underground city
Almost immediately, Trenton and Kallista are caught up in a civil war between a clan of scavengers called Whipjacks and the Order of the Beast, people who believe that dragons are immortal and divine.
Stranded in a new city, the two friends meet Plucky, a Whipjack girl with mechanical legs, and Ander, a young member of the Order who claims humans are able to communicate with dragons. Can they trust anyone, or have they unknowingly stepped into a trap?
And high above in the sky, the dragons are gathering . . .

Patricia MacLachlan - The Poet's Dog - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (September 13, 2016)
From Newbery Medal winner Patricia MacLachlan comes a poignant story about two children, a poet, and a dog and how they help one another survive loss and recapture love.
Teddy is a gifted dog. Raised in a cabin by a poet named Sylvan, he grew up listening to sonnets read aloud and the comforting clicking of a keyboard. Although Teddy understands words, Sylvan always told him there are only two kinds of people in the world who can hear Teddy speak: poets and children.
Then one day Teddy learns that Sylvan was right. When Teddy finds Nickel and Flora trapped in a snowstorm, he tells them that he will bring them home—and they understand him. The children are afraid of the howling wind, but not of Teddy’s words. They follow him to a cabin in the woods, where the dog used to live with Sylvan . . . only now his owner is gone.
As they hole up in the cabin for shelter, Teddy is flooded with memories of Sylvan. What will Teddy do when his new friends go home? Can they help one another find what they have lost?

From the Back Cover

Alone in a fierce winter storm Nickel and Flora are brave but afraid a dog finds them. Teddy speaks words and brings them to shelter. The poet’s cabin has light and food and love.
But where is the Poet? Teddy will tell the story of how words make poems and connect those who hear each other.
The Poet’s Dog from Newbery Medal—winning author Patricia MacLachlan is a poignant story about two children, a poet, and a dog and how they help each other survive loss and recapture love.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's/Teen Book Picks UK Published - September 2016 - Post Three

Jenny Nimmo - Henry and the Guardians of the Lost - Published by Egmont (8 Sept. 2016)

A spell-binding new children's book from one of Britain’s best-loved authors of fantasy adventure. Perfect for fans of Eva Ibbotson, Inkheart, and the Charlie Bone series.
The yellow letter arrived on a Saturday, otherwise Henry would have been at school. The envelope was such a bright, sunny colour, no one would have believed that it contained a bombshell.
Less than 10 minutes after the arrival of the mysterious letter, Henry is on the run with his Auntie Pearl, possibly never to return home. Henry has a secret. He is twelve, but he hasn’t aged a day since the moment he was thrust a hundred years into the future. Now his secret has put him in danger. His only hope is the protection of the Guardians of the Lost. 
A wonderfully immersive fantasy book for children aged 9 and up.

Words from Jenny Nimmo

Even before the last Charlie Bone book had been published, I was receiving letters from children begging to know what had happened to Charlie’s cousin, Henry. In Book Two, ‘The Time Twister’, Henry arrives in the present after being whisked through time from the year 1916. Charlie helps Henry to escape from the malevolent magician, Ezekiel, now over a hundred years old. It was Ezekiel who, as a jealous teenager, sent Henry through time as a punishment for being clever at jigsaws.

After his escape Henry lives in a remote and secluded cottage with his aunt, Pearl, and his cat, Enkidu. Better keep him there for a while, I thought, out of harm’s way. So there he stays for almost two years. However, when children’s letters started arriving, asking for news of Henry, I knew it was time to determine his future. What would become of a boy, a hundred years out of his own time? In my mind Henry began to emerge as a resilient and resourceful boy (he has to be) a boy determined to survive no matter what. I knew what he looked like as I had already described him in ‘The Time Twister’. He bears an uncanny resemblance to Charlie Bone, who has dark, springy hair and eyes like muddy pools. READ MORE HERE!

Cameron McAllister - The Demon Undertaker - Published by Corgi Children's (1 Sept. 2016) - (Book Review to FOLLOW)

Bolt your doors! Do not dare to sleep! A kidnapper known as ‘The Demon Undertaker’ is on the loose in London! Yesterday he continued his reign of terror in his most chilling crime yet – kidnapping Lady Grace Davenport from under the very noses of her family! 

A barrage of bullets could not stop the blood-thirsty ghoul from escaping in his black hearse – is he man or vampyre?

Young Thomas Fielding, nephew of the Chief Magistrate, stumbled across the villain and gave chase. Can Thomas and his team of Bow Street Detectives save Lady Grace and catch the Demon Undertaker before he snatches his next victim?

Nicola Pierce - Kings of the Boyne - Published by The O'Brien Press (26 Sept. 2016)

Two kings, Three young soldiers. One battle to end all battles.
Eager to prove his courage and defend his family honour, young Irish noble Gerald O'Connor rides his warhorse Troy north in King James’s cavalry.
Brothers Robert and Daniel Sherrard march south from the once-besieged city of Derry with King William’s army.
The chosen field of battle – the Boyne – lies waiting, where victory will decide who rules the lands of England, and of Ireland.
And the fighting will decide who survives the deadly game of war.

Ross MacKenzie - Shadowsmith (Kelpies) - Published by Kelpies (15 Sept. 2016)

Are you brave? When mysterious Amelia Pigeon turns up at Kirby's bedroom window in the dead of night, this is the question she asks him -- immediately before they tumble into a world of ancient malevolent spirits who have torn their way into Kirby's sleepy seaside village. Ross MacKenzie weaves a world of magic and adventure, which twists and turns magnificently and will keep thrilled young readers guessing right to the end.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016


Paris, London and Amsterdam – On Saturday 19 November, Christie’s Paris and Daniel Maghen will offer their second ‘Comics & Illustrations’ auction of the year. On this occasion, a selection of 40 highlights from the auction will be on view in London and Amsterdam in October.

The tour* comprises an important selection of great European comic masters such as Hergé, with a fantastic 1930 double page from Quick and Flupke (estimate: €90,000-100,000), Hergé’s first series published between 1930 and 1969; and a sketch for the 1957 calendar of Le Journal de Tintin featuring the 12 main characters of The Adventures of Tintin dancing a sarabande (estimate: €110,000-120,000). 

The creators of celebrated heroes like Astérix, Blake & Mortimer, Corto Maltese, Spirou and Fantasio, the Smurfs and Blueberry will also be exhibited during the tour. Finally, modern authors will be present, including Moebius, Bilal, Vance, Rosinski, Guarnido and Loisel. These two exhibitions (in London and Amsterdam, free and open to the public) are a fantastic opportunity to rediscover heroes of the 9th art.

A special section of the sale and tour will focus on the comic author Jean-Pierre Gibrat. It marks the first time that Christie’s Paris devotes an auction catalogue to a contemporary artist. 17 full comic pages and original drawings chart the carrier of this master of the 9th art. 
Gibrat will be present in London and in Amsterdam to take the public through his work, and tell the success of his main series, Le Sursis, Le vol du Corbeau and Mattéo.

85 Old Brompton Road London SW7 3LD Tel: +44 (0)20 7930 6074 Viewing times: 5-12 October: 9am.-5pm. 
(closed on October 9)

Cornelis Schuytstraat 57 
1071 JG Amsterdam 
Tel: +31 (0)20 57 55 255 Viewing times: 20-24 October: 10am.-5pm. 
(closed on October 22 and 23) 
4 October: Christie’s Lates Evening: 6pm.-8:30pm. 19 October: Christie’s Lates Evening: 6pm.- 8:30pm. 

Free Access 
AUCTION « BANDE DESSINÉE & ILLUSTRATION » IN PARIS: Saturday 19 November 2016 at 3pm. 
PUBLIC VIEWING IN PARIS: Wednesday 16, Thursday 17, Friday 18 from 10am. to 6pm.  Saturday 19 November 2016 from 10am. to 12pm. 
CHRISTIE’S PARIS: 9, avenue Matignon – 75008 – Paris

Monday, 19 September 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Ransom Riggs - Tales of the Peculiar - Book Review (Penguin) (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children)

*A new set of stories from the world of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children*

In this collection of fairy tales, Ransom Riggs invites you to uncover hidden legends of the peculiar world. A fork-tongued princess, a girl who talks to ghosts, and wealthy cannibals who dine on the discarded limbs of peculiars are just a few of the characters whose stories will have you hooked.
Featuring stunning illustrations from world-renowned artist Andrew Davidson, this compelling, rich and truly peculiar anthology is the perfect gift for fans - and for all lovers of great storytelling.
Tales of the Peculiar is a beautifully illustrated collection of fairy tales that draws the readers back to the world of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. It is a lovely volume of ten short stories that all start with a fantastic black/white full page of woodblock engravings by Andrew Davidson. 

This golden striking book cover has also been designed by Andrew; it is absolutely stunning, just like the overall production of the book. The illustrations will lead you into a transcending world of fables, myths and mysteries that will pull at the peculiar strings of your fantasy brain. 
I'm not usually a big fan of short stories, but I am a very big fan of Ransom Riggs. All of the short stories exist within his previous novels and give you a fantastic taste of each whether you are a new reader or a previous fan. They are a mixture of beloved fairy tales and legends that the peculiar children grew up hearing; all have been written by and about people with peculiar talents and afflictions. 
The tales are mostly folklore and are meant, primarily, to be punchy and packed full of good stories. They delve into important aspects of peculiar history, such as how Miss Peregrine’s time-looping predecessors came to be through the short story of "The First Ymbryne". The tales are set in a distant era before peculiars lived in time loops. It concerns strange dealings between a peculiar village and a group of disarmingly polite cannibals. 
My favourite story is "The Girl Who Could Tame Nightmares" which is a deliciously dark fairytale told in a clever and imaginative way. It will pick you up and suck you into a bubble of wonderfully weird brilliance which will stay in your dark hungry hearts for some time. 
All of the stories are twisted and filled with a strange and quirky humour which suits me just down to the ground. You can start at any place in the book and easily follow the flow of the narrative. I am confident that you will love all of the stories. There is certainly a great selection to read aloud, but only if you are Peculiar. 
This is a fantastic book to introduce to the world. The characters and the story will soon be seen on the big screen at the end of this month. It has been directed by Tim Burton and stars Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson and Judi Dench. It looks like an amazing film so check out the movie trailer below. 
Ransom Riggs grew up in Florida but now makes his home in the land of peculiar children—Los Angeles. He was raised on a steady diet of ghost stories and British comedy, which probably explains the novels he writes. There's a nonzero chance he's in your house right now, watching you from underneath the bed. (Go ahead and check. We'll wait.) If not, you can find him on Twitter @ransomriggs.
Andrew Davidson graduated from the Royal College of Art with a Masters in Graphic Design. Davidson has worked as an illustrator in a number of different disciplines, but craft and design have always been the cornerstones of his work. His varied career has included wood engravings for The Iron Man byTed Hughes, more than twelve sets of stamps for The Royal Mail, and the glass etched doors for the Centre Court at Wimbledon. He is married to his wife Julia, and has two sons, Lewis and Hugh.


Friday, 16 September 2016


  • The helmet is one of only a handful made for the original Star Wars trilogy, and is estimated to sell for £50k - £70k at auction
  • The total collection of Film & TV memorabilia on the block worth in excess of £1.5 million 
  • A free to enter preview exhibition will be open to the public ahead of the Prop Store auction at London’s BFI IMAX, proudly presented by ODEON, from 14 -27 September where you can see the artwork and a host of other lots available
Prop Store – An incredibly rare Imperial TIE fighter pilot helmet from Star Wars: A New Hope, and subsequently used in the hit sequel Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, is to be made available at public auction in the United Kingdom.
Based on concept designs by costume designer John Mollo,the helmet combined components from the iconic Imperial Stormtroopers and heroic X-Wing pilot helmets to create a truly unique design that has gone down as one of the most popular in the history of the famed franchise. The helmet is one of over 100 pieces used in the production of the Star Wars films that will be hotly contested in Prop Store’s 27 September Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction, held at London’s BFI IMAX proudly presented by ODEON.

While there are numerous known examples of the Imperial Stormtrooper helmets from the original series, only a handful of TIE fighter pilot helmets a known to remain in existence today, with even fewer in private hands outside of the Lucasfilm archives in Nicasio, California’s Skywalker Ranch. Compared to the Stormtrooper helmets, only a small number of TIE fighter pilot helmets were made, making them incredibly rare and of great interest to collectors and fans alike.
  • ABS plastic construction
  • Grey vacuum-formed eye lens
  • Imperial ‘Cog’ decals on the forehead
  • Foam internal liner
  • Protective rubber neck trim
Made for Star Wars: A New Hope, two of the helmets were repurposed for use by AT-AT pilots in The Empire Strikes Back, leaving the remaining helmets to be used by fleeing Imperial pilots in Return of the Jedi. The Prop Store is proud to offer one of the rarest helmets from the Star Wars franchise, a piece perfect for any die-hard Star Wars fan’s collection.

The helmet is estimated to sell for between £50k and £70k. Additional pieces from the Star Wars franchise, including Rebel vests from Star Wars: A New Hope (£4k-6k), a model miniature X-Wing from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (£60k-80k estimate) and an original ILM motion control camera used in the production of the entire original trilogy (£30k-50k estimate) make up over 500 lots from the world of film and television, all going under the hammer on 27 September 2016 from 12PM.

The auction will be live-streamed online for fans to track the bidding on auction day. A free preview exhibition will be open to the public in the run up to the auction, open from Wednesday 14 September at the BFI IMAX and showcasing over 300 lots from the upcoming auction. Star Wars fans will have an opportunity to see the iconic helmet and many other treasures in the exhibition.

Registration and bidding is now open. Bids can be placed online at over the phone or in person. 
The free exhibition open to the public at the BFI IMAX, Waterloo, London, England SE1 8XR from 10:00am to 9:30pm, 14 - 27September 2016. Prop Store’s Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction, in partnership with the BFI IMAX proudly presented by ODEON, will take place at the BFI IMAX Waterloo (1 Charlie Chaplin Walk, London SE1 8XR) on Tuesday 27 September from 12:00pm.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Theresa Breslin - Caged - Book Review

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Corgi Children's (1 Sept. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552565229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552565226

Carnegie Medal winner Theresa Breslin explores the dangerous world of cage-fighting in this dark and powerful new novel. 

Escaping from a troubled home and struggling to survive on the streets, the abandoned tunnels of the London Underground are a perfect sanctuary for Kai. Along with other teenagers running from their pasts, he finds somewhere to belong in this strange community of outcasts.

But Kai is now facing a very different kind of fight. Every night, led by the enigmatic Spartacus, the runaways must become cage fighters, each fight broadcast to the outside world via YouTube. With gambling profits from these videos racking up, Kai and his friends hope to be able to start a new life. 

Yet treachery and danger are never far behind, and a new arrival threatens the order that Spartacus has worked so carefully to maintain. And then there is the looming finale, the last battle between Kai and his nemesis Leo: the Kill Fight...

As soon as you turn the first page, it will definitely have you focused on the story ahead. Crawling through the darkness will eventually lead you to page one. At this point, the mind will sharpen and flex with these powerful words "Blood has a stale taste. Brings back a memory". You will suddenly find yourself transported into a dangerous world of cage fighting. With a narrative this strong, you will be hooked in like a pro boxer and soon be rocking on the ropes of fantasy in a blink of a punch. 

This is a brilliantly written story full of highs and lows over a period of just one week. Within a very short period of time, you will meet the characters and intimately get to know most of them. Their troubled teenage lives and backgrounds pull the narrative together like a vice. Homeless, being alone and afraid, they are all in search for a place to belong, but will they find it? 

This story was inspired by an ever increasing number of young people living rough on our city streets. The author skilfully draws together her feelings and emotions into the characters very sensitively - it is a delight to read. The story is very much in keeping with the daily struggles of teenage life, for some young people. The sense of being different is evident and explored within this book; it makes you think about how our minds consider and act upon every day issues. It's a real reality check and one that every reader, regardless of age, should and will connect with. It is very thought provoking.

This is a great social story that captures the bonds of friendships. It is very topical and cool with a dark and edgy killer kick. There is a great sense of wonder and intrigue pulling together contemporary ideas and placing them underneath the mysterious streets of London. 

The fighting scenes in the story, perhaps needed a little more work, as they lacked a little bit of realism for me within the story. However, the rest of the plot was fantastic and worked really well; it was maybe a little predictable in places, but so what? The ending was climatic, explosive and tied up all the loose ends very nicely. This is a very satisfying read and one of the best books that I've read from Theresa. It is throughly engaging and is based on a great concept. Great reading and a book, I would really recommend! 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's/Teen Book Picks UK Published - September 2016 - Post Two

Margaret Atwood & Johnnie Christmas - Angel Catbird Volume 1 - Published by Dark Horse (8 Sept. 2016)

Lauded novelist Margaret Atwood and acclaimed artist Johnnie Christmas collaborate on one of the most highly anticipated comic book and literary events of the year.
On a dark night, young genetic engineer Strig Feleedus is accidentally mutated by his own experiment and merges with the DNA of a cat and an owl. What follows is a humorous, action-driven, pulp-inspired superhero adventure with a lot of cat puns.

Published in over 35 countries, Margaret Atwood is one of the most important living writers of our day and is the author of more than 40 books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Her work has won the Man Booker Prize, the Giller Prize, Premio Mondello and more. Angel Catbird is her first graphic novel series.

Tahereh Mafi - Furthermore - Published by Puffin (1 Sept. 2016)

Colour and magic combine in this enchanting new middle grade fantasy from the bestselling author of the Shatter Me series.
Born as blank as canvas in a world brimming with colour and magic, Alice's pale skin and milk-white hair mark her as an outcast. Because, for the people of Ferenwood, colour and magic are one and the same. And since the disappearance of her beloved father, Alice is more determined than ever to prove herself and her own magical abilities.

Ransom Riggs - Tales of the Peculiar (Miss Peregrines Peculiar Children) - Published by Penguin (6 Sept. 2016)

*A new set of stories from the world of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children*

In this collection of fairy tales, Ransom Riggs invites you to uncover hidden legends of the peculiar world. A fork-tongued princess, a girl who talks to ghosts, and wealthy cannibals who dine on the discarded limbs of peculiars are just a few of the characters whose stories will have you hooked.
Featuring stunning illustrations from world-renowned artist Andrew Davidson, this compelling, rich and truly peculiar anthology is the perfect gift for fans - and for all lovers of great storytelling.

Neil Gaiman (Author) & Chris Riddell (Illustrator) - Odd and the Frost Giants - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (8 Sept. 2016)

A thrilling, wintry Nordic epic from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell, weaving a tale of legend, magic and adventure which will grip and enchant readers from beginning to end.
Odd, a young Viking boy, is left fatherless following a raid and in his icy, ancient world there is no mercy for an unlucky soul with a crushed foot and no one to protect him. Fleeing to the woods, Odd stumbles upon and releases a trapped bear . and then Odd's destiny begins to change. The eagle, bear and fox Odd encounters are Norse gods, trapped in animal form by the evil frost giants who have conquered Asgard, the city of the gods. Now our hero must reclaim Thor's hammer, outwit the frost giants and release the gods . 
This rich and layered tale of courage is told with humour and in breathtaking style by two creators at the height of their powers: from the author of modern classics such as American Gods, Coraline and The Sleeper and the Spindle, Odd and the Frost Giants will leave you spellbound. Lavishly produced and packed with Chris Riddell's glorious illustration enhanced with metallic ink, this is a spectacular and magical gift.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Guy Bass (Author) & Lee Robinson (Illustrator) SPYNOSAUR UK Blog Tour 2016 (With Monkey Poo)

This is the first in a hilarious new series from best-selling author Guy Bass. It has been illustrated by the amazingly talented Lee Robinson and published by Stripes Publishing on the 8th September 2016. Yes, that's today you lucky people, so you can now buy a copy after reading this fantastic interview and feed it to your prehistoric book worms. Please check out all the other #Spynotour blog posts at the bottom of the post. Over to Guy and Lee...

GUY BASS: How difficult was it to produce a humorous book to engage children and make them laugh?
I rarely find writing easy, but I love writing funny books. Humour cuts through tension, offers light relief in dark moments and makes it easier to raise the stakes without anyone kicking up a fuss. With Spynosaur I was spoofing spy stories, which often sacrifice logic for the sake of enjoyment, so it was fun to push that absurdity further. Also, Lee Robinson really nails the balance of humour and tension in his illustrations.

What would be your summary of this book in 20 words or less?

Secret saurian super-spy sIlliness - sometimes strange, certainly stirring, staggeringly sensational! (Also, monkey poo.)

Where did you get your ideas for this book?

I wrote a book called Secret Santa: Agent of X.M.A.S and it whetted my appetite for spy stuff. I jotted down a tagline in my notebook - "Spynosaur - he's waited 65 million years to complete his mission". I didn't have a story but I liked the idea of a secret agent who was ridiculously conspicuous. It didn't get much further than that for a few years. I kept revisiting it as a sort of origin story, but it wasn't quite right. My editor suggesting potting Spynosaur's origin in a comic book format, and I remembered the theme tunes of the cartoons I used to watch in the 80s. Then it started to come together - a big, loud, improbable adventure, filled with ridiculous set pieces, inescapable situations, and ninja snowmen.

What would be a Spynosaur's favourite sandwich filling?

Small fluffy animals.

As a child did you enjoy reading? If so, what was your favourite book and did this author influence your writing in any particular way? 

I had a tricky relationship with reading as a child. It wasn't a comprehension issue - I found books daunting. Roald Dahl helped a lot - I mean, a lot. His books were pacy and irreverent and, by and large, the had a supernatural or otherworldly element, which I loved. George's Marvellous Medicine changed everything. I adored that book. It's incredibly efficient writing, playful, a little dark and just wonderfully strange. In the book Dahl calls it "the edge of a magic world". That stuck with me - the idea that the world we live in is a surface to be scratched. Underneath is strangeness and magic.

Could begin by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Hello! My name is Lee Robinson, and I'm a illustrator hailing from the sunny North East of England. I did an awful lot of drawing growing up, as I was surrounded by lots of cousins and a granddad with a brilliant knack for making up stories on the spot (I still struggle with that). We designed levels for games, new strips for football teams, characters for Saturday morning shows etc. As I got slightly older, I discovered Pokemon and my love of manga and anime began. Like many young artists, I would draw thousands of floating heads until I could draw the perfect set of eyes. This carried on for a few more years, but my love for art was also competing with my new love for skateboarding, so I'm sad to say drawing fell by the way-side a bit (don't worry, it's not the last you'll hear of it!).

My parents were always very supportive, but no one in my family had ever gone down the artistic career path, and we weren't very clued up on what I could achieve by drawing little characters. So, with my best interests at heart, they thought teaching may be a better and safer choice. And yet, I think there was always a pull from that side of my brain telling me to keep drawing. And I did. After spells of plucking turkeys, dry stone walling, delivering the Yellow Pages, and cleaning out drains (teaching never worked out), I signed up to an FD in Animation at Newcastle College and put myself on the trajectory to become a professional artist. There has been a lot of hard work put in since then, but I feel very lucky to be where I am right now. 

What comes first for you - pictures or words?

Probably pictures, but the two go hand in hand, I think. Recently I was creating my own comic strip, and tried writing a script, which is something I've never really done before. While it was a fun experience, I felt I was thinking of the pictures first, then having to break down these into text. I was creating an extra step for myself, so instead I roughly drew the whole story out, and I could be more expressive and get those ideas out a bit quicker than writing. Obviously, a lot of people would do it the other way around.

When I first started designing the characters for Spynosaur, I'd been sent some of the manuscript Guy had written, and these trigger different ideas and thoughts that I would not have been able to achieve by just drawing alone.

How did the collaboration work between you and Guy?

Fantastic! Anyone who has read any of Guy's books will know that they are packed full of the good stuff. When I first read the manuscript, I was getting sweaty palms (and sore ribs) thinking of all the ways to illustrate this scene or that. I feel very lucky that Guy, Ali, Paul, and everyone at Stripes gave me so much room to explore, and let me stamp my own ideas onto the book. Spynosaur in particular went through a few design changes, and little things were being changed right up to deadline! But everyone was trying to achieve the best results, and I think the choices we took were for the best. We always knew that we wanted a Saturday Morning cartoon feel to the book and I think we achieved that together. 

What are you most proud of within this book? Is there anything that you would change?

Guy created some of the most villains for this story, and I had a lot of fun designing them. I feel like you can always push the shapes a bit further when drawing baddies! I think we've created some memorable characters, and they all have a unique look and silhouettes, which is really important! Of course, in a book about dinosaur spies, there is a lot of action to be drawn! But I drew a little illustration near the end of the book that I found quite touching, and it made me smile when I drew it, so that's the part I'm more proud of.

For the next book, I hope we can up the ante on the comic pages! We'll keep trying to get a seamless transition between the text and the panels so the reader feels truly immersed. 

What is your favourite drawing technique/tool?

I drew all of this book on my Cintiq in Photoshop, and for ease and time, this is definitely one of my favourite tools. It is only a tool, though, and I still love drawing on good ol' pen and paper. I think it's important to keep exploring with different mediums, as it stops us stagnating. Keeping trying new things and never stop learning!  

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's/Teen Book Picks UK Published - September 2016 - Post One

Chris Riddell - Ottoline and the Purple Fox - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (22 Sept. 2016)

Ottoline is back in Ottoline and the Purple Fox, a brand new adventure from Children's Laureate, Chris Riddell. 
Ottoline and Mr Munroe love puzzles, clues and mysteries. One day, they meet an enigmatic purple fox, who offers to take them on a night-time urban safari. The fox shows them all the hidden animals of the city and Ottoline makes notes on them in her field notebook. Mr Munroe is making notes too - on the anonymous poems he finds stuck to lampposts on their journey. Who is the secretive poet, and how can he and Ottoline help them mend their broken heart? 
Includes a free fold-up-and-keep fortune teller!
Jonathan Stroud - The Creeping Shadow - Published by Corgi Children's (15 Sept. 2016)
Lucy has left Lockwood & Co. A freelance operative, she is hiring herself out to other agencies – agencies that might value her ever-improving skills.

But now Lockwood needs her help.

Penelope Fittes, leader of the well-renowned Fittes Agency wants Lockwood & Co. – and only them – to locate and remove the ‘Source’ for the legendary Brixton Cannibal.

It’s a tough assignment. Made worse by the tensions between Lucy and the other agents – even the skull is treating her like a jilted lover!

What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving their closest rivals may just do the trick.
Peter Bunzl - Cogheart - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (1 Sept. 2016) - (see book review here)
When 13-year-old Lily's inventor father vanishes after a Zeppelin crash, Lily's determined to hunt down the truth behind his disappearance, helped by Robert, the local clockmaker's son, and her wily mechanical fox Malkin. But shadowy figures are closing in and treachery lurks among the smoky spires of London - along with a life-changing secret.

Be swept away by airships and flabbergasted by dastardly plots in this extraordinary and wildly imaginative debut, bursting with invention and adventure.

But not all is at it seems. And it’s not long before a shocking revelation rocks Lockwood & Co. to its very core . . . 
Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre - Jinks & O'Hare Funfair Repair - Published by OUP Oxford (1 Sept. 2016)
The highly-anticipated fourth scintillating adventure from the amazingly talented team of Reeve and McIntyre. 
Emily loves living on Funfair Moon - especially when she gets to help Jinks & O'Hare, the extraordinary repair team. But when chaos strikes during a crucial funfair inspection, Emily has to act fast. Can she deal with a violent fudgesplosion, a gravity inversion, and a marauding candyfloss creature? Or does this spell doom for Funfair Moon? From the dynamic team who brought you Oliver and the SeawigsCakes in Space, and Pugs of the Frozen North comes this rip-roaring rollercoaster of adventure. A visual feast with stunning two-colour illustration on every page.