Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Sarah Govett - The Territory: Truth (The Territory Trilogy) - Book Review (Firefly Press)

Limited Space requires Limited Numbers. Noa and Raf have found Jack, but at great personal cost. They must get back into the Territory and let people know what is happening. But how can they even scale the electric, gun-turreted fence, let alone fight the fake news of the Territory authorities?

The final installment of The Territory Trilogy is here; alive and kicking into the world of the fantasy readers. The Truth was published on the 1st April 2018 by Firefly Press and ends another series which started back in 2015. The first book started the experience in a dystopian whirlwind of imagination that captivated the readers instantly. It was a fantastically gripping start which we all wanted and got. 

The second book was The Territory: Escape in 2016. It was very enjoyable and built on the initial foundations of brilliance. This book delivered a real and intimate connection to the characters focusing on emotions and friendships. However, this meant the action side of the story became less of a focal point, in my opinion. The Truth started off in this same vein - very slow and shy. The characters, emotions and dialogue took centre stage for me and, at times, clogged up the potential. In Truth, what I really wanted was more action and more of the brilliantly imaginative and creative fantasy elements that we were treated to in book one. I wanted to explore and be transported to First City; the vivid, vibrant and active place that captivated me as a reader. 

Fortunately, this arrives in bucket loads with an explosive bang after the first one hundred pages or so. It leads to an amazing and well-thought out plot that will have you hooked and gasping for more. The more you read, the more you feel that Disneyland has never been invented. The author takes a brutal path and weaves strands of harsh reality ofor the reader to follow, which I absolutely loved and engaged with on so many levels. Death, destruction and fraying friendships come crashing down on the reader leaving mixed emotions that turbo-charge you into the reality facing the characters. This was all brilliantly written and very well-thought out. 

Empathy and love for the characters really grows throughout the book. The full and all-action ending was captivating and very memorable; it was exactly what I was hoping for. It left you guessing, satisfied, but also a feeling of awe from the outcome of the story. However, there was also a pinch of sadness as you finally left such a brilliant world. I think there is more to be explored and developed; it could certainly become a futuristic masterpiece. This is a great ending to a brilliant series full of highs and lows. I am hoping to read more stories like this by Sarah Govett and Firefly Press. 

Monday, 26 March 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks March 2018 - US Post Two

Marcus Emerson  - The Super Life of Ben Braver - Published by Roaring Brook Press (March 6, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1626727106

Packed with black-and-white art and comic strips throughout, The Super Life of Ben Braver is the first book in a hilarious adventure series about the greatness that lies within any middle schooler who dreams big from Marcus Emerson, the author of the smash hit Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja series. 
Ben Braver is an ordinary kid. All he wants to do is finish his summer watching awesome TV shows and eating his favorite candy. But when some kid screams for help, Ben, like his favorite comic book heroes, tries to save the day. Let's just say it ends badly. But it does lead him to a secret school where kids with super abilities learn to control thier powers. Ben's never had any powers―and never thought he could be special. So when he's offered a spot at the school, Ben realizes this is his. 

Joelle Charbonneau - Time Bomb - Published HMH Books for Young Readers (March 13, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0544416703

Seven students trapped in their school after a bomb goes off must fight to survive while also discovering who among them is the bomber in this provocative new thriller from the author of the New York Times bestselling Testing Trilogy. Perfect for fans of This Is Where It Ends. 

A congressman's daughter who has to be perfect. A star quarterback with a secret. A guy who's tired of being ignored. A clarinet player who's done trying to fit in. An orphaned rebel who wants to teach someone a lesson. A guy who wants people to see him, not his religion.

They couldn't be more different, but before the morning's over, they'll all be trapped in a school that's been rocked by a bombing. When they hear that someone inside is the bomber, they'll also be looking to one another for answers.  

Told from multiple perspectives, Time Bomb will keep readers guessing about who the bomber could be—and what motivated such drastic action. 

Wesley King - A World Below - Published by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (March 6, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1481478229

Mr. Baker’s eighth grade class thought they were in for a normal field trip to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. But when an earthquake hits, their field trip takes a terrifying turn. The students are plunged into an underground lake…and their teacher goes missing.

They have no choice but to try and make their way back above ground, even though no one can agree on the best course of action. The darkness brings out everyone’s true self. Supplies dwindle and tensions mount. Pretty and popular Silvia does everything she can to hide her panic attacks, even as she tries to step up and be a leader. But the longer she’s underground, the more frequent and debilitating they become. Meanwhile, Eric has always been a social no one, preferring to sit at the back of the class and spend evenings alone. Now, he finds himself separated from his class, totally by himself underground. That is, until he meets an unexpected stranger.

Told from three different points of view, this fast-paced adventure novel explores how group dynamics change under dire circumstances. Do the students of Mr. Baker’s class really know each other at all? Or do they just think they do? It turns out, it’s hard to hide in the dark.

Blue Balliett - Out of the Wild Night - Published by Scholastic Press (March 27, 2018) -  ISBN-13: 978-0545867566

Out of the Wild Night is master storyteller Blue Balliett at her spooky best, a spellbinding tale about the haunted residents of a very special place.

Ghosts are alive on the island of Nantucket. You can hear them in the wind and in the creaks of the old homes. They want to be remembered. And, even more, they want to protect what was once theirs. 

The ghosts have chosen a few local kids to save the island against the adults who would do it harm. But the kids can't be sure how the ghosts are going to act. Things tend to disappear when ghosts are around. People tend to get trapped - especially if they're up to no good. Only the kids can make things right . . . if the ghosts will let them.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Sophie Anderson - The House with Chicken Legs - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Book Review

Some stories are truly inspired by the soul. They dance with the wind until one day it's time for that story to be born. The House with Chicken Legs is one of those stories. It is Sophie Anderson's debut book for middle-grade readers and is due to be published by Usborne on the 1st May 2018. The story is beautifully told and delicately carved from Slavic folklore; it has been inspired from tales told by Sophie's Prussian grandmother during World War II.

The narrative from the first page leads the reader into a rich fantasy world that is wildly imaginative and very bold. You'll find yourself being swept away in the blink-of-an-eye as 'the house with chicken legs' takes off without warning in the middle of the night before nestling in a dark forbidden wood on the edge of civilization. This is a super start to an epic tale which skips and dances its chicken legs into a macabre world of fantasy.

The book explores the theme of death and the afterlife which are all told through the eyes of the young and loveable protagonist Marinka. Baby Yaga, her grandmother, is an inspirational character. She is a spiritual witch who is wise and very old. Her role is to guide the dead through the gate with tradition, ceremony music and lots of food. This delivers an edge to the story and sends a spine-tingling feeling down the back as the dead march on to the afterlife, or do they?

The story is told with heart, passion and love. Marinka dreams of a normal life, but her destiny may have a different path for her in this gripping adventure that will captivate the reader in so many ways. It's a truly magical story that will transport the reader into a narrative full of emotional challenges and many questions to be answered. As Marinka faces loneliness, friendship and death she tries to challenge her destiny and break free from her grandmother's footsteps.  Unfortunately, her house has different ideas and delivers an endless amount of possibilities.

You will journey across a creative landscape through mystery and sadness. You'll fly over a vivid backdrop like no other and explore the sounds and taste of another culture. It's a story full of tragic events but, eventually, the light shines bright. In fact, the stars come out to play and dance a merry jig leaving you with a warm feeling inside. This is a really memorable classical story that transcends time. It will stay with you forever, regardless of the next adventure that you find yourselves on. 

Monday, 19 March 2018

Robert J. Harris - Artie Conan Doyle and the Vanishing Dragon - UK Blog Tour (Kelpies)

Welcome to day two of the UK blog tour for Robert J. Harris and his brilliant new mystery 'Artie and the Vanishing Dragon'. This is an opportunity to celebrate the unveiling of a brand new book in the Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries. Published by Kelpies, The Vanishing Dragon will fly into bookshops on the 22nd March 2018. 

This is a week-long mission to entertain and entice you to pick up these brilliant books and read them. So sit back and relax as we're going back to the scene of the crime to investigate where and how it all began. Have your magnifying glasses at the ready throughout the week to follow the author's footsteps each day. Please see the blog tour list in the top right-hand corner of the blog.  Happy Reading. 


I was about eight years old when I read my first detective story. It was The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat by Enid Blyton, featuring a group of young investigators called The Five Find-Outers. Though they never achieved the same level of success as Blyton’s other quintet (The Famous Five), nevertheless the Find-Outers had a long run of cases from 1943 to 1961.

Young detectives have long been a part of the mystery genre, including such stars as The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. My own favourite series is The Three Investigators, who began their career in 1964 with The Secret of Terror Castle. Their stories were introduced by famous film director Alfred Hitchcock, who played a role in that first case. I personally think the best of these is The Stuttering Parrot, which is both very clever and entertaining.

One of the most significant features of these mysteries for younger readers is that they are not centred on the sort of gruesome murders that dominate adult crime fiction. A good thing too, I say.

While I think of the tales I tell as primarily adventure stories, these adventures always include an element of mystery. With The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries I have shifted towards detective stories (though they are still exciting adventures). As with all my books, my main rule is that a good book for younger readers should be one that adult readers (like me!) will also enjoy. By the same principle the mysteries in these novels are to be just as good, just as baffling, as any you would find in the great crime classics.

Part of the fun is trying to guess not only who committed the crime but why. In Artie’s first adventure, The Gravediggers Club, he needs to discover not only who has been digging up dead bodies, but also why they’re doing it.

The clues are another vital element to a good mystery. The clues, far from shedding any light, should make things even more baffling. The clues Artie comes across give him a headache more than anything else - that is until he finally understands what they mean.

It’s also hugely fun for the writer and reader if the crime itself appears to be utterly impossible. My favourite mystery writer John Dickson Carr is the acknowledged master of such puzzles as ‘How was a man able to jump into a swimming pool surrounded by witnesses and completely disappear?’

In The Vanishing Dragon Artie is faced with a similarly impossible crime; a gigantic mechanical dragon is stolen from a warehouse when the only exits and entrances are a door securely fastened with multiple locks and a window far too small for the dragon to fit through.

The crucial point in any mystery story is when the truth is revealed. If this is done well, the reader will see all the pieces of the mystery falling into place like a magical jigsaw puzzle fitting itself together. My aim is that as they behold the completed picture readers will cry out in delight, “Of course! Now I see!”

That’s what I enjoy in a good mystery.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks March 2018 - US Post One

James Riley - Worlds Apart (Story Thieves) - Published by Aladdin (March 20, 2018) - Hardback - ISBN-13: 978-1481485746

Owen and Bethany try to find their way back to each other after the fictional and nonfictional worlds are torn apart in this fifth and final book in the  New York Times bestselling series, Story Thieveswhich was called a “fast-paced, action-packed tale” by School Library Journal—from the author of the Half Upon a Time trilogy.

Bethany and Owen have failed. The villain they have come to know as Nobody has ripped asunder the fictional and nonfictional worlds, destroying their connection. Bethany has been split in two, with her fictional and nonfictional selves living in the separate realms.

But weirdly, no one seems to mind. Owen—and every other nonfictional person—have lost their imaginations, so they can’t picture their lives any differently. Then Owen gets trapped in a dark, dystopian reality five years in the future, where nothing is needed more desperately than the power to imagine. 

Fictional Bethany is thrilled to be training with her father as his new sidekick, Twilight Girl—until she realizes that the fictional reality will fade away completely without the nonfictional world to hold it together. 

In this final installment of the genre-bending Story Thieves series, Owen and Bethany will be forced to risk everything to defeat Nobody and save multiple realities.

Obert Skye - Wizard for Hire - Published by Shadow Mountain (March 6, 2018) - Hardback - ISBN-13: 978-1629724126

Fourteen-year-old Ozzy lives near Portland, Oregon, and is desperate for help. His scientist parents have been kidnapped after discovering a formula that enables mind control. Their work was so top secret Ozzy is afraid to go to the police, but without help, he fears he'll never find his parents. Then he stumbles across a classified ad in the local newspaper that says "Wizard for Hire. Call 555-SPEL." Ozzy has read about wizards in books like Harry Potter, but wizards couldn't actually exist today, could they? After Ozzy meets the wizard Labyrinth--aka Rin--he's even more skeptical.

Sure, Rin dresses like a wizard, but the short robe and high-top tennis shoes seem unorthodox, as does Rin's habit of writing notes on his shoes and eating breakfast for every meal. Plus, Rin doesn't even cast any magic spells, which means that the unexplained coincidences that start happening around Ozzy are just that--coincidences.

With the help of a robotic-talking raven invented by Ozzy's father, a kind and curious girl at school who decides to help Ozzy, and, of course, a self-proclaimed wizard who may or may not have a magical wand, Ozzy begins an unforgettable quest that will lead him closer to the answers he desperately seeks about his missing parents.

Tiffany Parks - Midnight in the Piazza - Published by HarperCollins (March 6, 2018) - Hardback - ISBN-13: 978-0062644527

Beatrice Archer may love history, and Rome may be chock-full of it, but that doesn’t mean she wants to move there! 
Too bad Beatrice’s father got a job as the head of the history department at the American Academy in Rome—now, Beatrice has no choice but to get used to the idea.
When she arrives in Rome she explores her new city as much as she can, but it isn’t until she hears talk of a strange neighborhood legend that Beatrice perks up. A centuries-old unsolved mystery about the beautiful turtle fountain outside her window? Sounds like fun!
Before Beatrice has a chance to explore, though, she sees a dark figure emerge from the shadows of the square in the middle of the night—and steal the famous turtle sculptures that give the fountain its name.

When no one believes her story, Beatrice knows that it’s up to her to solve the crime and restore the turtles to their rightful place. With the help of her new friend Marco, she navigates a world of unscrupulous ambassadors, tricky tutors, and international art thieves to unravel one of Roman history’s greatest dramas—before another priceless work of art is stolen.

Diane Magras - The Mad Wolf's Daughter - Published by Kathy Dawson Books (March 6, 2018) - Hardback - ISBN-13: 978-0735229266

A Scottish medieval adventure about the youngest in a war-band who must free her family from a castle prison after knights attack her home--with all the excitement of Ranger's Apprentice and perfect for fans of heroines like Alanna from The Song of the Lioness series.

One dark night, Drest's sheltered life on a remote Scottish headland is shattered when invading knights capture her family, but leave Drest behind. Her father, the Mad Wolf of the North, and her beloved brothers are a fearsome war-band, but now Drest is the only one who can save them. So she starts off on a wild rescue attempt, taking a wounded invader along as a hostage.

Hunted by a bandit with a dark link to her family's past, aided by a witch whom she rescues from the stake, Drest travels through unwelcoming villages, desolate forests, and haunted towns. Every time she faces a challenge, her five brothers speak to her in her mind about courage and her role in the war-band. But on her journey, Drest learns that the war-band is legendary for terrorizing the land. If she frees them, they'll not hesitate to hurt the gentle knight who's become her friend.

Drest thought that all she wanted was her family back; now she has to wonder what their freedom would really mean. Is she her father's daughter or is it time to become her own legend?


Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Paul Magrs - The Heart of Mars (Lora Trilogy) Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Book Review (Firefly Press)

Have we come to the sad end of the sci-fi Lora trilogy by Paul Magrs?

It all started with "Lost on Mars" which is the first book in the trilogy. This was a brilliant read and became my favourite book of 2015. The second book in the series, "The Martian Girl" (2016), was, again, an excellent read which I thoroughly enjoyed. The final installment is "The Heart of Mars" and is absolutely amazing. This series really is one of my all-time personal favourites; it is a science-fiction delight that everyone should read. 

The Heart of Mars will be published across the galaxy on the 15th March 2018 by Firefly Press. NOTE: this book can be read on its own or on Mars. However, I personally would recommend that you start with the first book in the series.
If you've not read the previous books then grab all three and begin a reading adventure like no other. Unfortunately, they're not that easy to find so you may need to order them. Nevertheless, it will be worth the time and investment as they will leave you feeling like you've read something really special by one of the best authors around.  

I lost all sense of time as I followed Lora, Peter and, Toaster (a Servo-Furnishing machine) into the deadly swamplands full of mist and thick purple mud. The further they plunged into the adventure, the greater the sense of creeping eyes following and strange voices drifting through the air. It's a fantastic shuttle-ride of escapism as you follow Lora's epic mission to reunite her family in an all-out thrilling finale. 

A strange encounter with the Ancient Ones delivers a power-packed punch of fantasy and magic. You'll be slapped in the face with an air of mystery and so many unanswered questions. It's a brilliant story packed full of action, adventure and a fantastic host of characters, creatures and monsters. Yet, the simplicity of the story alongside the engaging narrative is cleverly built around a detailed fantasy world that seeps into the pores of the reader.

The author's vivid imagination in taking an idea and running with it, regardless, is breathtaking. It is incredible how he is able to write a Sci-Fi novel with such ease and poise. Even more remarkably, is that it will be loved by kids as much as by adults. It really does have his unique personality stamped onto every page, but this is what is to be expected from Paul Magrs. In my opinion, he is such an underrated author so start reading his books now. 

This book is a super extra-terrestrial romp through space and time. It is from the heart and is full of friendship danger as well as humour (I am Watt. Watt I am!). Definitely a book to devour and a series to savour. 

Monday, 12 March 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books Children's Book Pick For March 2018 - The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown

The sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Wild Robot, by award-winning author Peter Brown

Shipwrecked on a remote, wild island, Robot Roz learned from the unwelcoming animal inhabitants and adapted to her surroundings--but can she survive the challenges of the civilized world and find her way home to Brightbill and the island?

At the end of The Wild Robot, Roz is badly damaged, and she’s taken away from the island, back to the robot factory where she was made. And I picked up from there as I turned my attention to The Wild Robot Escapes. I began by simply asking myself questions:
  • What happens when Roz arrives at the robot factory?
  • If her body is repaired will her computer brain be affected?
  • Where does she go after being refurbished?
To contrast the wilderness of the first book, I wanted Roz to now experience as much of the civilized world as possible. I wanted her to experience cities and towns and rural areas. I wanted human characters and robot characters and domestic animal characters. And there would have to be futuristic technology: computers and machines and vehicles. As I thought about the future, I asked myself more questions:
  • What will our world look like in 50 or 100 years? 
  • How will technology change our lives? 
  • How will our lives stay the same?
Although the story would have elements of science fiction and fantasy, I wanted it to seem as believable as possible, so I did plenty of research. I read books and listened to audiobooks and watched documentary films and went on research trips.
  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: The Wild Robot (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (March 13, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316382043
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316382045

Twitter: @itspeterbrown

The Wild Robot Book Trailer For Book One

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's and Young Adult Book Picks - March 2018 - UK Post Two

Rob Lloyd Jones - Jake Atlas and the Hunt for the Feathered God (Jake Atlas 2) - Published by Walker Books (1 Mar. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1406377712

Jake Atlas and his family are on the run, hunted by international police while chasing the mysterious People of the Snake to stop them from hiding the secret history of humankind. But when the family's friend, Sami, is poisoned, the People of the Snake force the Atlases to work for them in exchange for a cure. Their mission: to locate a legendary lost city and the tomb of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl in the jungles of Honduras - home to bandits, big cats, tarantulas and crocodiles. But the family's greatest enemy is themselves, as their squabbles threaten to get them into even deeper trouble. In order to reach the tomb, the family must survive ancient traps, jump out of a crashing plane, escape a jaguar's lair, climb a cliff of skulls, jump over a huge waterfall and escape from a trap of swinging blades!

Dave Rudden - The Endless King (Knights of the Borrowed Dark Book 3) - Published by Puffin (22 Mar. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0141356624


The final book in the award-winning Knights of the Borrowed Dark trilogy, perfect for fans of Skulduggery Pleasant.
'You have no idea what real war is . . . but I'm afraid you're going to find out.'
There's nothing like an apocalypse to kick off the school year.
Denizen Hardwick has travelled to Daybreak, the ancestral home of the Order of the Borrowed Dark, to continue his training as a knight. But lessons have barely begun before an unexpected arrival appears with news that throws the fortress into uproar.
The Endless King has fallen, his dark realm rising in a brutal civil war. When the conflict strikes closer to home, Denizen and his friends face their greatest challenge yet. For if Daybreak falls, so does the world . . 

S.E. Durrant (Author),‎ Rob Biddulph (Illustrator) - Running On Empty - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (1 Mar. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0857637406

AJ's grandfather has always been the one to keep his unusual family together, so when he dies things start to unravel at the edges. AJ is worried about his parents but they don t really seem to notice. In order to deal with his grief and to keep his anxiety at bay, AJ does what he and his grandfather did best: running. Round and round the Olympic Park, aiming for the cross country trials, running to escape, AJ only seems to be heading ever closer to disaster. Running On Empty is a beautiful book about false starts and emotional journeys, with hope as the ultimate finishing line. From the author of Little Bits of Sky. Cover illustration by Rob Biddulph.

Tomi Adeyemi  - Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha) - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (8 Mar. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1509871353 - (Young Adult)

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut Children of Blood and Bone.

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us. 
Now we rise. 
Zélie remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must remain hidden. 
Zélie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic – and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Monday, 5 March 2018

David O'Connell (Author),‎ Claire Powell (Illustrator) - The Dundoodle Mysteries: The Chocolate Factory Ghost - Mr Enchanted Books Book Review

Archie McBudge knows his lucky underpants must really work because when he and his mum are summoned to Honeystone Hall in the remote Scottish village of Dundoodle, they find Archie has inherited not only the enormous hall but the whole of the world-famous McBudge Confectionery Company from Great-Uncle Archibald. That's a new home, a fortune and a lifetime's supply of treats rolled into one! 
But all is not well in Dundoodle, and when Archie reads the mysterious letter his great-uncle left him he finds himself on a quest to save his family's company from ruin. With the help of his new friends Fliss and Billy, Archie has to try to figure out the puzzles of Honeystone before his sweet future melts away like an ice lolly in the sun!
Fans of How to Train Your Dragon and Tilly and the Time Machine will be hungry for this delicious mystery full of weird clues, strange creatures, malevolent relatives and lots and lots of SWEETS!

For your reading pleasure is the review for "The Chocolate Factory Ghost" by David O'Connell. This is the first book in The Dundoodle Mysteries which will hit the bookshops on the 5th of April 2018, just in time for Easter. It is published by Bloomsbury Children's Books in the UK. The book has been fabulously illustrated by the multi-talented Claire Powell, who was also the winner of the best short animation "The Scapegoat" at the British Animation Film Festival in 2015.  

Are you ready for a sugar-coated mystery?

Well put on your lucky underpants, like the main character in the book Archie McBudge, and get ready to turn the pages. You will hurtle into a pick and mix adventure that will leave your hands sticky with creative and clever imagination. You will follow the sweet crumb trail of strange clues and uncover the magical mystery with a great set of characters. Some of which you will love and some you will love to hate. Just like all good stories, there are plenty of villains about so watch your step!  

This is a great interactive family book to share with children; it will really engage them. It's a brilliant story for a younger audience and a new series that you will want to come back to again and again. It's very playful and fun to read with lots of moreish references to sweets that will make you want to dip your fingers into the sweety jar and pull out a treat. 

It's a full-on fantasy escapade that will have you fizzing with delight. The more you read, the more you will be hit by the feel-good factor. You will have strange puzzles to solve, mayhem to pursue and action in abundance. It has everything to keep you hooked on your spooky toes. 

WARNING: This is an honest review and the bribery of free chocolate fudge that came with this book has absolutely no bearing on the review above. All my opinions are prior to eating my weight in chocolate fudge. Thank you very much, Bloomsbury Children's Books.  

Sunday, 4 March 2018

UK Children's Book Illustrators List 2018 - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Becka Moor grew up in Manchester where she still lives, above a little cafe in her home office filled with inspiration and coffee stains.
She graduated in 2012 with an honours degree in Illustration for Children’s Publishing from Glyndwr University in North Wales. It was there that her passion for children’s books really took flight.
Becka has always been fascinated by the way illustration and narrative work together, and she loves working with a new text, figuring out how to make the most of a humorous situation for example, and exploring different character ideas.
Twitter: @BeckaMoor 

Benji Davies is an illustrator, author and, animation director. His first self-penned picture book The Storm Whale won the inaugural Oscar’s Book Prize and was Dutch Picture Book Of The Year 2017. His second, Grandad’s Island won the children’s book category of the AOI World Illustration Awards 2015 and was crowned Best Picture Book and overall Children’s Book of the Year at the Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Awards 2015.
Benji studied animation at university and has since worked on a diverse array of projects, from picture books and animated short films to music videos, commercials and, title sequences. His books have been co-editioned in many languages and countries around the world.
Twitter: @Benji_Davies

Ben Mantle was born in Leamington Spa in 1980, and developed a very early interest in things artistic, designing programme covers for school productions and even coming first in his local library colouring-in competition. From there he went on to study animation at Surrey Institute of Art & Design, graduating in 2003.. He then gained valuable experience working on Tim Burton's “Corpse Bride” before moving to Brighton to work as 'Head of Animation' in a media company, focusing on Character and Background design.

He was also part of the Animation team creating the BAFTA winning 'Big and Small' CBeebies website. Since 2008, Ben has been working as a Children's Book Illustrator from his shared studio in Brighton and he also produces screen prints and digital artwork to exhibit. He illustrated 'Callum's Incredible Construction Kit' which won the Bishop's Stortford Picture Book prize 2013.

Twitter: @BenMMantle

Caroline Uff was born in 1967 in Hong Kong. Whilst still very young she moved back to England with her family. For a few years, she lived in a shed in Shropshire. As a young child, she enjoyed pushing a trolley full of coloured bricks around the garden and eating coal, whilst sporting a Beatles haircut and a tartan mini skirt. Later we moved to Yorkshire in the north of England.
I have always loved drawing and making things from old cereal boxes and sellotape. Although sadly never reaching the dizzy heights of winning a Blue Peter badge I persevered with my artistic studies at Local schools before taking my degree at Edinburgh College Of Art. I thought of becoming a graphic designer but soon realized that illustration allowed me more freedom and enjoyment.

Chris Chatterton is an author and illustrator from County Durham, England. He has a background in graphic design and corporate /commercial animation. His passion for illustration has led him to pursue a career as a freelance artist working for a wide array of clients.  Chris loves all things creative and geeky.
Twitter: @ChrisChatterton

David Litchfield is an illustrator from Bedfordshire in the U.K. He is represented by The Bright Agency. David first started to draw when he was very young, creating Star Wars and Indiana Jones ‘mash up’ comics for his older brother and sister. Since then David’s work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, books and on T-shirts. He has also exhibited his illustrations in both solo and group shows in the U.K, Europe, America.
David’s award-winning first author/illustrator picture book ‘The Bear & The Piano’ and it’s follow up  ‘Grandad’s Secret Giant’ are out now.
Twitter: @dc_litchfield

David O’Connell is a writer and illustrator living in London, UK. He works mostly in children’s books, particularly humorous picture books and young fiction.
His first book was Monster & Chips, the first of a series of funny (and revolting) adventures of ‘hooman’ Joe Shoe whilst working at the Monster Diner of friendly monster Fuzzby Bixington.
He then collaborated with the brilliant Sarah McIntyre on the picture book Jampires, inspired by a comic they improvised together – a comic ‘jam’! After completing illustrating the Creature Teacher series by writer Sam Watkins, he worked with illustrator Francesca Gambatesa on a series of picture books all about families, as well as illustrating Boyband of the Apocalypse books for funny writer Tom Nicoll.
His latest series is the Dundoodle Mysteries, tales of spooky adventure in the strange little town of Dundoodle, illustrated by Claire Powell.

Jim Field is an award-winning illustrator, character designer and animation director. From music videos and title sequences to advertising and picture books, Jim has worked on a variety of projects.
His first picture book, ‘Cats Ahoy’ written by Peter Bently won the Booktrust Roald Dahl Funny Prize in 2011. He is perhaps best known for drawing frogs on logs in the bestselling picture book ‘Oi Frog!’
He has illustrated children's books with Kes Gray, Michelle Robinson, Rachel Bright, Jeanne Willis, Steve Cole and comedian David Baddiel.
Twitter: @_JimField

Kasia Matyjaszek is a freelance illustrator, living and working in Edinburgh, UK. She graduated with a Masters degree in illustration from Edinburgh College of Art in 2010. A picture book I created for my final degree show was highly commended in the Macmillan Book Prize. In 2013 she took part in the Picture books scheme and together with other finalists exhibited my work in The Scottish National Gallery. In 2015 her picture book was highly commended in Clairvoyants international competition.

I worked on various picture book projects and exhibited my work in Britain, Poland and Italy. 

Twitter: @kasiatwits 

Kate Hindley is a children's book illustrator living and working in Birmingham, UK.

She worked as a Print Designer at a Northamptonshire based design company before she got her first book deal with Simon and Schuster back in 2011, illustrating Claire Freedman's "The Great Snortle Hunt".

Since then she has worked on picture books and fiction with publishers including Walker Books, Simon and Schuster, Bloomsbury, Candlewick, and Usborne.

Twitter: @hindleyillos

Karl James Mountford is an Illustrator, born in Germany and brought up in the U.K. Karl graduated in 2013 at Swansea Met Uni with a Masters degree in Illustration and Visual communication. Karl works in both traditional and digital mediums. He loves Illustration full heartedly, from picture books, writing stories, screen printing, contemporary design. His style of illustration is 'visually edible', sometimes witty, sometimes odd but always full of gusto.


Twitter: @karlj_mountford 


Mark A Chambers is an illustrator and author of children's picture books and young fiction. He studied illustration at university and has since been represented by the London and New York Illustration agency, Bright Group InternationalMark was shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize in 2013 with Noisy Bottoms and Pigeon Poo written by Elizabeth Baguley won the Sheffield Children's Picture Book Prize in the same year. My Hamster is a Genius written by Dave Lowe was also Highly Commended.


Twitter: @markAchambers 


Marta Altés studied graphic design in Barcelona and after working there as a graphic designer for almost five years. I decided to pursue my interest for illustration that I had since I was a child. I moved to England and I joined 

the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. Now, after finishing the course, I think 
it was the BEST decision I have ever made. 

Since I graduated, I'm working as an illustrator in London and it makes me feel so lucky and happy.

In 2012 I started working as a part time lecturer in the MA in Children's Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art.

I always try to have a positive and funny vision about life and to get a smile from who is looking at my drawings 
or reading my stories is what I like the most about illustration.


Twitter: @martaltes


Nick Tankard is an Illustrator working from his studio in the world heritage village of Saltaire, West Yorkshire.
His illustrations are produced using a cross-hatch technique with a black fine line pen. Layer upon layer of small ink lines are built up to form structure and shape, whilst other areas are left untouched in order to hint at a flickering light or billowing clouds. It’s a very time consuming process. He cross-hatches in one direction, then turns the image around and adds another layer to create shade and depth, whilst also leaving elements untouched to hint at light and space. The image may turn ten to twenty times until it’s finished.

Nick studied art and Illustration at Bradford College from 1991 – 94.

He then continued his graphic design studies to HND at Cleveland College of Art & Design.
Nick has illustrated several children’s books producing full-page interior illustrations in his pen & ink cross-hatch style.

Twitter: @NickTankard

Sarah Horne grew up in snowy Derbyshire, UK with some goats and a brother. She learned to draw whilst trying to explain her reasoning for an elaborate haircut at the age of nine. Sarah then honed her skills on the mean streets of Falmouth, studying Illustration. Here, there were daily street battles of scribbling resulting in many paper cuts, but some very nice drawing.
Alongside working on some very funny children’s titles, Sarah has also worked on commissions for The GuardianThe Sunday TimesKew GardensSesame Street and for IKEA as their Children’s Illustrator In Residence.
She now draws, paints, writes and giggles from underneath a pile of paper at her studio in London.

Twitter: @sarahhorne9

Sarah McIntyre is known for her lively adventure stories and action-packed illustrations. She writes and illustrates picture books and comics. Most recently, she has teamed up with Carnegie-winning writer, Philip Reeve, to produce illustrated longer stories, including ‘Oliver and the Seawigs’ and ‘Cakes in Space’. 

Her books have won awards including the Leeds Graphic Novel Award, the Sheffield Children’s Book Award (in the ‘Overall’ category), the UKLA Award, the Independent Bookshop Week Book Award and the Bishop’s Stortford Picture Book Award. 


Twitter: @jabberworks


Sharon King-Chai is a designer & illustrator. Born in Australia, she moved to London in 2003 after completing an Honours degree in Visual Communication at University of Technology Sydney, and has been based in North London ever since. 

Sharon has extensive experience in music & publishing industries. She has worked on a wide range of projects including album artwork, branding and logos, product packaging, book covers and event identities. 

Recent awards include Best Children's book cover at the Academy of British Design awards, Best Classic Children's Book at Junior Design Award, Family Choice Award (US) and a shortlisting for the Futurebook Innovation Award. 

In 2013 Sharon’s first children’s picture book ‘Lucy Ladybird’ was published as both book and an iPad app, and her second book, Snail Mail, is out in September 2016. 


Twitter: @SharonKingChai


Steven Lenton hails from Cheshire and now works from his studio in Brighton, creating an array of charming characters for his books.
Best known for illustrating Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam, written by Tracey Corderoy, he has illustrated many lovely books and wrote his first picture book with Nosy Crow, Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights.
Steven also loves to visit schools, festivals and bookshops, encouraging and inspiring his audience to draw, giggle and create! He is also a children’s book blogger – just search for his name on YouTube. 

Twitter: @StevenLenton