Thursday, 24 May 2018

Claire Fayers - Mirror Magic - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Book Review

The town of Wyse, set precisely on the border of England and Wales, is remarkable for one thing: it is the only remaining human town where magic works. 
When twelve-year-old Ava and her brother return to their birthplace of Wyse, they discover that their once-magical town has been losing its charms under the control of Lord Skinner. Uncovering a working magic mirror, Ava opens an unauthorized link to the twinned town of Unwyse, where she meets Howell, one of the unlucky Fair Folk who is being pursued by the terrifying Mr Bones. 
Discovering that they are the joint guardians of a grumpy old book that can tell the future, the new friends are unexpectedly launched headlong into an adventure to uncover the mysterious link between Mr Bones and Lord Skinner, and to find out what's happening to the waning magic that connects their two worlds.

Follow the magical footpath to Claire Fayer's brilliant new book called Mirror Magic. The book will be published on the 14th June 2018 by Macmillan Children's Books in the UK.  It's a fantastic middle-grade read that will pull you in by the book cover alone. This has been illustrated brilliantly by Becka Moor and will enchant the socks off you by leading you into the world of Wyse. 

At the start of each chapter, you will get what I call 'little mutterings' from the grumpy old book. I'm only a book so who do you think I am? Well, I think you are sarcastic and very amusing - you certainly made me laugh a lot. You will really look forward to every new chapter with gusto as it links the main narrative of the story very cleverly. 

The story follows Ava and her brother to the town of Wyse with an invitation of employment by Lord Ephraim Skinner. This is the only town with the connection to the magical "Unworld" and the land of the Fair Folk. It's a brilliant adventure that will entertain you from the very first page to the last. Wildly imaginative, but with a sinister dark plot brimming full of mayhem and Victorian charm. It's a twisted tale of shenanigans, with some vivid scenes of peril, all enhanced by some fairy magic that will keep the readers strapped into their fairy gowns. 

The story has a great eclectic mix of characters; some dark and evil that you want to curse at whilst others are more lovable. In fact, you would probably want to invite them to a fairy tea party full of Brunel's Bakery treats - all 100% real with no added enchantments. You know what you're eating at Brunel's (address supplied on request). 

This is an exciting story that you will have a great time reading, regardless of age or gender. However, tread carefully and don't mess with mirrors.... All Enchantments guaranteed to last for a minimum of 10 days, or your money back. A recommended read from the one who knows. 

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's/Young Adult Book Picks May 2018 - US Post

Bob - Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead (Illustrated by Nicholas Gannon) Published by Feiwel & Friends (May 1, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1250166623 - Hardback 
It’s been five years since Livy and her family have visited Livy’s grandmother in Australia. Now that she’s back, Livy has the feeling she’s forgotten something really, really important about Gran’s house.
It turns out she’s right.
Bob, a short, greenish creature dressed in a chicken suit, didn’t forget Livy, or her promise. He’s been waiting five years for her to come back, hiding in a closet like she told him to. He can’t remember who―or what―he is, where he came from, or if he even has a family. But five years ago Livy promised she would help him find his way back home. Now it’s time to keep that promise.
Clue by clue, Livy and Bob will unravel the mystery of where Bob comes from, and discover the kind of magic that lasts forever. 
Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, two masterminds of classic, middle-grade fiction come together to craft this magical story about the enduring power of friendship.
This title has Common Core connections.

Adam Kline (Author) Illustrator (Dan Wisker) - The Clockwork War - Published by Insight Kids (May 15, 2018) - 

  • ISBN-13: 978-1683832362 - Hardback 

To battle a menacing evil figure, a group of children team up with amazing mechanical machines built by genius clockmaker Karl Indergarten.

Best friends Karlheinz Indergarten and Leopold Croak clash in an epic, imaginary battle waged in the branches of an enormous, ancient oak tree. But when lightning strikes young Leopold, he loses his imagination, and with it, his sense of right and wrong. The damaged boy grows to adulthood, treading a sinister path of industrial conquest. And Leopold’s thirst for power soon threatens the tree, the village, and worst of all, the children within.
But humble Karl discovers a gift for clockwork—the magic of gears and cogs—and assembles a mechanical army to fight back. Joined by the children themselves, Karl endeavors to save the village, the ancient oak, and maybe—just maybe—something more besides.

A. M. Morgen - The Inventors at No. 8 - Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (May 8, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0316471497 - Hardcover 

Brimming with mystery and treasure, this action-packed tale sends a boy in need of luck and girl in need of a friend on an adventure that will change their lives forever.

Meet George, the third Lord of Devonshire and the unluckiest boy in London. Why is George so unlucky? First, he's an orphan. Second, unless he sells everything, he's about to lose his house. So when his family's last heirloom, a priceless map to the Star of Victory (a unique gem said to bring its owner success in any battle) is stolen by a nefarious group of criminals, George knows that there is no one less lucky--or more alone--than he is.

That is until Ada Byron, the future Countess of Lovelace, bursts into his life. She promises to help George recover his family legacy, and is determined to find her own father along the way--all in a flying machine she built herself. Joined by a mischievous orangutan and the long-lost son of an infamous pirate, Ada and George take off on a cross-continent journey through the skies that will change their lives, and perhaps the world, forever.

Jeri Baird (Author) Tanya Hales (Illustrator) - Barnabas and Bird Run Away from the Circus - Published by Jeri Baird (May 1, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0692075999 - Paperback

In the tradition of timeless stories, BARNABAS AND BIRD RUN AWAY FROM THE CIRCUS blends humor and poignancy to create a story of friendship and loss.
Barnabas is self-centered and a bit too verbose. His best friend, Bird, loves him anyway. Devastated to learn he'll never grow big enough to join his family in the world's largest elephant act, Barnabas struggles to show Papa he can be big in other ways. Challenged by his older brother, Barnabas embarks on a quest to prove he's brave. Of course, his tiny canary friend joins him.
With top hat, goggles, a map, and a lucky peanut, the duo fly across the country on a raft guided by a wind that whispers destiny, destiny. Barnabas encounters a whale, a herd of bison, crows, and cows, but they aren't enough to make him feel brave. The duck, duck, and goose confuse him with their questions. And those s-s-s-snakes on the island in the Great Lakes! Shudder!
Then, Barnabas discovers Bird's big secret. It's almost too late before Barnabas learns that becoming a true friend might be the bravest thing he could do.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Victoria Williamson - Where Do Ideas For Stories Come From? (The Fox and the White Gazelle Blog Tour)

It's a pleasure and a delight to be hosting a guest post from Victoria Williamson.  'The Fox and the White Gazelle' was published on the 19th April 2018 by Kelpies of Edinburgh. 

Reema runs to remember the life she left behind in Syria. Caylin runs to find what she's lost. What follows both characters in this book makes for a thought-provoking and moving journey. It takes you through a set of emotions that will stay with the reader. It's a life story that came from a seed of reality and ends in the realm of fantasy. Nature versus nurture with a strong sense of belonging. 

Many thanks to Victoria for sharing this post with us all. I hope you enjoy - thank you for taking the time to read it.  

One of the most frequent questions an author gets asked is ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ 

That was an easy question to answer when I was six or seven: I stole them. And not even subtly. There was no half-hearted attempt to disguise the plagiarised re-telling of books I’d read, tv shows I’d watched or films I’d seen. My early ‘books’ were made of pieces of paper stapled together and filled with scenes from my favourite cartoons. The first play I wrote and performed with some friends in my P3 class was a rewrite of the plot of The Worst Witch. I retold the stories that excited me, imagined myself going off on the adventures I read about and saw on the screen, and changed a few details here and there to make myself the hero of these tales. 

And soon a funny thing happened. The adventures began to take on a life of their own. I was still writing stories about the Thundercats or dreaming up mysteries for Tintin to solve. But the plots were new, and all of my own making. Later, when I stepped through the magical wardrobe in my imagination, instead of finding Narnia on the other side, it would be a different world, peopled by characters I had invented, with stories all of their own I had never read before.

That’s why as a teacher I get a bit annoyed by the insistence on ‘originality’, particularly for children in the early years. It’s one thing for a twelve-year-old to hand in a half-hearted retelling of a tv show for a creative writing exercise, but surely we should be helping younger children to become enthusiastic writers by letting them tell the tales that truly thrill them? ‘Write about anything you like’ is so vague that adults who’d love to write a children’s book are left scratching their heads wondering where on earth they’re going to find a great idea, so why do we expect small children to be able to do this from a young age? Yes, children have vivid imaginations, but if you listen carefully, most of the stories they’re telling are about tv shows they’ve seen and books that have been read to them, just like mine were. The children who are encouraged to write these down while they’re still excited about them, instead of being told to think up something completely new, are often the ones that, years later, become authors with stories of their own to tell. 

And like many authors, even as an adult I spend a ridiculous amount of time living in my head, in worlds filled with characters I had invented from tv shows, films and books. Some of the best stories I’ve written in my head but never committed to paper are fan-fiction episodes of Game of Thrones, Doctor Who or Supernatural. Writing well requires constant practise, just the same as playing the piano proficiently or playing a great game of tennis. But just like practising the piano or tennis, there’s no need to do something new every time. Writing has its scales and service games to rehearse too, but they needn’t be a chore. 

I often say to writers who are struggling to come up with ideas to go back to writing the way they did when they were very young, before the need to be original became a stifling requirement. Turn writing into a game, and rediscover the excitement of slipping into the role of your favourite character, battling monsters or flying dragons in magical faraway lands that are already 

out there waiting for you. Soon you’ll be meeting unexpected characters and coming up with different plots along the way, and with a bit of luck and a lot of practise, some of those will turn into brand new stories that have never been told before.

Victoria Williamson grew up in Kirkintilloch, north Glasgow, surrounded by hills and books, and started writing adventure stories at an early age, with plots and characters mostly stolen from her favourite novels and TV shows! These days her stories are all her own, featuring the voices of some of the many children she has met over the years on her real-life adventures around the world.

Victoria has been a teacher for many years, working in all sorts of exciting places from Cameroon, Malawi and China to the UK. She has lots of educational resources available to go with her books, and she is very happy to visit schools to talk to students about reading, writing and the issues raised. 

You can find out more about Victoria by following her on Twitter or visit her website.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

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

Lauren St John - Kat Wolfe Investigates (Kat Wolfe 1) - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (17 May 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1509871223

Kat Wolfe loves her new home in idyllic Bluebell Bay, especially as it comes with a resident wildcat. But when she starts pet-sitting for pocket money, she finds that beneath the town's perfect surface lie some dark and dangerous secrets...
After a pet owner vanishes from his clifftop mansion, Kat turns to her new friend, Harper Lamb, for help. What began as mystery-solving holiday fun quickly turns deadly for Wolfe and Lamb. Can they count on their unruly animals to save their lives?
Kat Wolfe Investigates is the first in a compelling middle-grade mystery series from bestselling author Lauren St John.

Clinton Dean - THE HIDDEN DOOR: The Way Finder Book 1 -  Published Kindle Book Publishing - 4th May 2018 - Paperback 

This year’s school summer break is a very different one for ten-year-old Martin and his family. Not only did he win the two-week Spanish sunshine holiday for his family, make some amazing friends, and indulge in a spot of sightseeing around AndalucĂ­a, but he also discovers he has a very strange gift. His new friend, Porsche, also has a gift and between them they stumble across a mystical realm. Unknow to Martin, he is about to embark on a fantasy-filled adventure that he will never ever forget. A realm filled with talking monkeys, beautiful griffins, dragons, wizards and giants… and that’s just for starters! As the new ‘Way Finder’ Martin is tasked with a very important job and during his quest he sees vibrant and colourful auras, and mysterious hidden doors. He travels through time to other (dark and dangerous) realms and comes face-to-face with a strange tattooed nun with an ulterior motive. But Martin has arrived at his destination three Blue Moons too early… and he’s so much younger than the previous Way Finders… and there’s a possibility he might die and never return to his human family. Will Martin and Porsche have to forfeit fun and family time and focus on their quest instead? Will they be able to explain their absences before any of the grown-ups find out? Will they be quick and brave enough to save the sorceress? Or will their sneaky nemesis and his sly tactics prevent his success? Find out all this and heaps more in this thrilling fantasy adventure. Take a peep at the ‘Look Inside’ feature now to find out more… but watch out for those wizards!

Harriet Whitehorn - The Company of Eight Published by Stripes Publishing (3 May 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1847159229 - Paperback - Read my Book Review Here

Cass has always wanted to audition as an acrobat for the famous Circus Boat that sails the warm seas of the Longest World. But when her chance is snatched away, she comes up with a new plan. Soon she has secured a job on the Palace Boat, following the circus around the islands. Yet Cass has been invited on the boat for a very different reason – and it’s not long before she is embroiled with thieves, sword fighters and a mysterious group of women called The Company of Eight… 

Sally Green - The Smoke Thieves - Published by Penguin (3 May 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0141375397 - Paperback


A princess, a traitor, a soldier, a hunter and a thief.
Five teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands.
Five nations destined for conflict.
In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father, while her true love, Ambrose, faces the executioner's block.
In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town.
And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.
As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our five heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war.
Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?

Monday, 14 May 2018

Tom Nicoll (Author), David O'Connell (Illustrator) - Boyband of the Apocalypse: Washed Up - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books (Book Review)

Just when Sam thinks life has returned to normal he’s bundled into a black van by agents of the Apocalypse Intelligence Agency who send him off the remote jungle island of Fin del Mundo to appear on a celebrity reality TV game show. One of Sam’s rival ‘celebrity’ contestants is none other than evil music mogul Nigel Cruul, who the A.I.A. suspect is planning to bring back the Horsewomen of the Apocalypse. Luckily his best friend Milo and kick-ass sister Lexi are starring in the show too. But they’ll have to survive everything from alligator-infested swamps to public vote offs, if they’re to save the world once more.

There is a large tower of swaying books to be read in Mr Ripley's corner at the moment. However, this book caught my eye purely from the book cover alone, which has been wonderfully designed by David O'Connell. It's a fantastically inviting book image that might suggest what's on offer to the reader once you start to delve inside. The illustrations inside creatively complement and enhance the brilliant story. The book has been published by Stripes Publishing and will be available on 3rd of May 2018. It is really aimed at ages 8-11 but older readers, like myself, should not be dissuaded from reading this. 
After whisking through the opening chapters, I quickly worked out that this is the second book in the series. I had not read the previous book and, to be honest, it did not hinder my reading experience. Nevertheless, I would go back and read the first book. I really loved the fantastic blend of reality, crazy fantasy and playful humour that the book has in bucket and spade loads. The imaginative story is along the lines of the reality TV show, I'm A Celebrity Get Me out of Here, versus the final destruction of the world. This sounds crazy, I agree, however, any reluctant reader will soon be sucked in by this ingenious idea. 

I really loved this book. It offers the reader the chance to dream and float amidst the story, whilst settling in your own fantasy clothes, in your own comfortable reading armchair. You will laugh, giggle and be entertained by a host of crazy characters which you'll be able to relate to and maybe even vote for. There is a brilliant mission, for a group of young children, to save the planet from destruction. As you run through the story, the thread of tension and suspense unfolds whilst your heartbeat quickens ever more.

This is a great book that delivers a theme which is on-trend and full of twists and turns. It's an all-out action adventure which is set on a mysterious tropical island. Full of deadly tasks, the characters are in danger of it all ending quickly at any time. This is a great read to get your teeth stuck into. Are you ready for a public vote? This gets the thumbs up from me so give it a read....

Thursday, 10 May 2018

R. S Holt – Modern Magic Interview Questions for Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books (Adult)

One of the most intriguing books for me this year has to be Modern Magic by R.S. Holt. The book was published by The Book Publishing Guild, which is a well-established independent book publishing company from Brighton. It has been publishing books for over 30 years. This particular book is aimed at an adult audience with good-old fashioned magic at the heart of the story. I wanted to find out more about the book before I purchased it, so I decided to ask the author some questions. Please find below the responses. I hope you enjoy the post as much as I did. 

Modern Magic is an adult fiction that follows a group of friends who live normal lives as shopkeepers by the New Forest and in Bloomsbury. The reader discovers that they also share secret lives of magic. Their charming, amusing and intellectually rich narratives take the reader through magical experiment exploration and daring adventure - raising some surprising emotional conclusions. The Stories of the Overbury Shops are three separate successive stories within one novel, following Pip, Geoffrey and Eleanor - each with their own narrator.

What element are you most proud of in this book? 

When writing Modern Magic I wanted to set out explanations for problems generally disregarded in fantasy writing; for example: we usually meet only male goblins; transformation into animals has a string of practical difficulties; curses must have a science of their own, which my characters deal with by modern methods; they rationally investigate bases of group magic such as whether nakedness is significant. I also wanted to demonstrate to myself that intelligent and mostly good characters can be interesting and sympathetic. 

How do you sum up Modern Magic: Stories of the Overbury Shops? 
I’d describe Modern Magic as contemporary realist plus fantasy. The founder of this work is Edith Nesbit as acknowledged by C.S. Lewis and others. 

Did you get any of your ideas for this book working as a museum curator? 
There are scenes in the book in the British Museum at night, but I just walked in the Museum to imagine these. My work as a museum curator was the basis for the ice skating in the book because I wrote an exhibition called Farewell Ice Rink when Richmond Ice Rink closed. Our exhibits included Torvill and Dean’s original Bolero costume, made in Richmond, and Robin Cousins’ Olympic costume worn for competition at Richmond. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself perhaps something not many people know?
One of my favourite pastimes is putting selected sea sand under a microscope and listing the shells I find, some babies of big species, and some that never get bigger, even living as parasites on bigger sea snails. I also find first stages or fragments of other sea creatures such as starfish, sea urchins, fish and crabs. The lists aid conservation mapping by the Conchological Society. But I do it because it’s beautiful, even just the sand grains in water under strong light. It’s entering another world. In my novel, Eleanor’s seaside holiday draws on this interest. 

Have you written any other books that have not been published? 
I’ve written a story of about a dozen short chapters which is narrated by Millie now aged thirteen (eleven/twelve in Modern Magic). I shall put it on a free author’s website when it’s been seen by my usual checking readers. I have many other stories planned, but unfortunately, I have other demanding projects for the next year or two.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks May 2018 - UK Post

Derek Landy - Midnight (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 11) - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (31 May 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0008284565 - Hardback 

Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain are back in their most gripping story yet, as book 11, Midnight, picks up where Resurrection left off – and runs.
For years, Valkyrie Cain has struggled to keep her loved ones safe from harm, plunging into battle – time and time again – by Skulduggery Pleasant’s side, and always emerging triumphant.
But now the very thing that Valkyrie fights for is in danger, as a ruthless killer snatches her little sister in order to lure Valkyrie into a final confrontation. With Skulduggery racing to catch up and young sorcerer Omen scrambling along behind, Valkyrie only has twelve hours to find Alice before it’s too late. The clock is ticking…

Joseph Delaney - The Beast Awakens (Aberrations) - Published by Puffin (3 May 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0241320990 - Paperback 

The first book in a horrifying new fantasy sequence from Joseph Delaney, the internationally multi-million-selling author of The Spook's Apprentice.
They heard shouting, and cries of fear. Crafty looked down the slope and realised what had happened to cause so much panic. Without warning, the dark wall of the Shole had advanced. 
Crafty can't remember a time before the Shole - the terrifying mist that has engulfed most of Britain, leaving those trapped in it to either die or be transformed into terrifying monsters: the aberrations. Crafty has been stuck in his family's cellar for nearly a year, his only companions his restless, whispering dead brothers, and an unusually friendly aberration he names the Bog Queen.
But then Crafty's life abruptly changes. He is ordered to report to the Castle, where he will train as a gate grub - operators of magical portals that allow the mysterious guild of Gatemancers to explore within the Shole. It is a dangerous job, with a very short life expectancy... 
To survive, Crafty will have to use every inch of his cunning - whatever the cost.

Sylvia Bishop - The Secret of the Night Train - Published by Scholastic (3 May 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1407184401 - Paperback 

One small girl - one BIG adventure. When Max is sent to Istanbul to stay with her boring Great Aunt-Elodie, little does she expect to be plunged into a thrilling night-time adventure across Europe. And when the mysterious Heartbreak Diamond goes missing, Max must find her feet in a whirling world of would-be diamond smugglers, thieves and undercover detectives. Will she discover the real diamond thief before they reach their destination? Or does the answer lie closer to home... Perfect for fans of THE WOLF WILDER and COGHEART, this is Sylvia Bishop writing at her quirky, brilliant best.

Sophie Anderson - The House with Chicken Legs - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (3 May 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1474940665 - Paperback 

Marinka dreams of a normal life, where her house stays in one place long enough for her to make friends. But her house has chicken legs and moves on without warning.

For Marinka's grandmother is Baba Yaga, who guides spirits between this world and the next. Marinka longs to change her destiny and sets out to break free from her grandmother's footsteps, but her house has other ideas...

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Sophie Anderson - The House with Chicken Legs Blog Tour: Fifteen Russian Fairy Tales and What They Mean to Me

Hooray! Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books is the next stop for 'The House with Chicken Legs' Blog Tour. It is with great pleasure that I find myself taking part in this BLOG tour to celebrate the publication of the book. The House with Chicken Legs is one of the best debut books that I've read. It has a very distinctive plot which is told with great imagination. Please check out my book review HERE. 

Nevermind what I think though - why not check the book out for yourself and buy a copy now. 

Sophie Anderson has written an inspiring post about fifteen Russian fairy tales and what they mean to her. 

The Gigantic Turnip (on community) 

‘Grandfather planted a turnip …’ 

In this Russian fairy tale, collected and published by Alexander Afanasyev in 1855, when the time comes to harvest the turnip, grandfather pulls and pulls, but can’t get the turnip out. So, grandfather calls grandmother, and grandmother pulls grandfather, and grandfather pulls the turnip. But still, the turnip doesn’t budge.

So, grandmother calls granddaughter to help, and when the turnip still doesn’t shift, granddaughter calls her puppy to help. The puppy calls a beetle, who calls another beetle, and another. 

‘Then the fifth beetle came. He pulled the fourth beetle, the fourth beetle pulled the third, the third pulled the second, the second pulled the first, the first beetle pulled the puppy, the puppy pulled the granddaughter, she pulled grandma, grandma pulled grandpa, grandpa pulled the turnip; they pulled and they pulled, and they pulled out the turnip.’ 

The gigantic turnip is a simple tale about the power of working together. The individuals pulling on the turnip have different strengths, but it is only by working together they free the turnip – and the last, tiny beetle is equally as important as the grandfather at the front of the line. 

History is full of examples of people working together to make massive changes. The civil rights movement, resistance against apartheid, women’s suffrage, LGBT rights, and the environmental movement, have all achieved levels of success as a result of people working together. 

In recent months I have heard many people call for change to gun laws in the US; from former president Barack Obama, to eleven-year-old activist Naomi Wadler. All their voices are equally important, and perhaps the greatest power is in seeing so many individuals working together to create momentous rallies and demonstrations. 

Away from politics, and on a more personal level, around two and half years ago I began writing The House with Chicken Legs. Although this was an individual endeavour, right from the start I was aware of my family supporting me, all the stories and storytellers who had inspired me, and all the folklorists, mythologists, and historians who had often spend lifetimes researching and creating books that I now dipped into for information. 

At the point I submitted the book to agents, it already felt like a joint effort between myself and at least one hundred other individuals! 

And then I signed with my incredible agent Gemma Cooper, and she led me through several rounds of edits. And then I signed with Usborne, and my amazing editor Rebecca Hill led me through several more rounds of edits! And there were more editors! Becky Walker, Mallory Kass, and Sarah Stewart; as well as proof-readers, cover artists, cover designers, illustrators, marketing people, publicity people, sales people … a seemingly endless array of talented people all working together to bring The House with Chicken Legs into the world.

And then ARCs flew out and there were reviewers, book bloggers, librarians, teachers, and readers, all contributing to making The House with Chicken Legs a success.

Like grandfather wouldn’t have that turnip without the help of many others, The House with Chicken Legs wouldn’t be running around bookstores, libraries, schools, and reader’s imaginations without the help of the countless people who have worked together to bring it into the world, and I am immensely proud of this bookish community and what we have achieved together! 

There is a lovely illustrated picture book retelling of this tale, written by Aleksei Tolstoy and illustrated by Niamh Sharkey, published by Barefoot Books. 

Naomi Wadler’s speech at March For Our Lives: 

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speech, ‘none of us can make it alone’: 

Sophie Anderson grew up in Swansea, studied at Liverpool University, and has worked as a geologist and science teacher in several parts of the UK. She wrote textbooks until characters from Slavic fairy tales began appearing in her work.
Sophie has an international family and loves to write stories inspired by different folklores, cultures, and landscapes. Her dream is to create books that help children to explore the world and fall in love with its beautiful diversity.
Now living in the Lake District with her teacher and photographer husband, Sophie enjoys the freedom of homeschooling her three children, walking, canoeing, and daydreaming.
Sophie is represented by Gemma Cooper of The Bent Agency. Her first book THE HOUSE WITH CHICKEN LEGS is publishing in 2018 with Usborne in the UK and Scholastic in the US. Rights have also sold in Italy, Germany, and Romania.
Sophie is on Twitter @sophieinspace, Facebook SophieAndersonAuthor and Instagram SophieAndersonAuthor

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Press Release: Beanstalk Reveals Top 40 Children's Books for Struggling and Reluctant Readers

40 children’s books have been selected for new starter packs which will benefit children supported by Beanstalk reading helpers in primary schools across England.

Beanstalk – a literacy charity which recruits, trains and places volunteers in primary schools across England to provide one-to-one support to children who have fallen behind with reading – has revealed 40 children’s books that will be used by the charity’s volunteers to kick-start reading engagement for the children they support.

Beanstalk’s ‘Top 40’ has been handpicked by children’s literacy experts including Beanstalk staff, trained reading helpers and literacy consultant Marilyn Brocklehurst – founder of The Norfolk Children’s Book Centre. The selection process involved careful consideration of the types of books Beanstalk-supported children would find fun and motivational. The books will be provided to Beanstalk schools as part of a starter pack resource which will be used by the charity’s trained volunteers placed in that setting.

Beanstalk has been working in schools for over 40 years supporting thousands of children each year across the country who have fallen behind with reading.  By bringing together the expertise of its long-standing reading helpers and highly respected literacy experts, Beanstalk has developed a resource which will ensure its network of reading helpers are well equipped from the outset to help more children than ever before.  

Ginny Lunn, Chief Executive Officer of Beanstalk, said:  
“As part of Beanstalk’s vision to help more children become confident and able readers we need to ensure that our volunteers have immediate access to age-appropriate and expertly chosen books as well as ongoing training and support to use those resources with children in the best possible ways. Up to now we have been so fortunate to have fantastic supplies of book boxes for volunteers to use, however, the introduction of Beanstalk’s starter packs will ensure that new volunteers are well equipped and have some brilliant resources to work on engaging the children from the very beginning – while they are still getting to know them. We also hope that by revealing Beanstalk’s ‘Top 40 ‘, it might help anyone looking for inspiration for a child they know - from parents to grandparents, reading helpers to teaching staff. And of course we will continue to develop and adapt this resource as the needs of our reading helpers and children changes, as well as encouraging volunteers to work with a variety of reading materials, as we always have done, including exploring local libraries and the school’s own library if they have one.”

Marilyn Brocklehurst, founder of the Norfolk Children’s Book Centre, said:

“We were very happy to work closely with Beanstalk to choose books for their starter packs and were so pleased with the final selection as they are all brilliant for children reading at all levels. They are great fun and a lot of the books are very original! We chose a mix of some classic books, such as Dear Zoo and more contemporary books, like Oi Frog! We, at the Norfolk Children’s Book Centre, are very happy to work with Beanstalk, the support that the children receive from Beanstalk reading helpers is exceptional.”

Beanstalk’s ‘Top 40’ has been organised into four age-appropriate sets of 10 books aimed at Lower Key Stage 1 (ages 5-6), Upper KS1 (ages 6-7) LKS1 (ages 7-8/9) and UKS2 (ages 9-11). All new schools that sign up with Beanstalk receive one starter pack of the 40 books. All volunteers that go through Beanstalk’s selection and training process from now on will have access to a full starter pack of 40 books when they begin in a school.

Thanks to the support of Marilyn Brocklehurst the relevant starter packs required by Beanstalk partner schools will be selected, boxed and distributed by the Norfolk Children’s Book Centre ready for newly-trained volunteers to use once they begin their one-to-one sessions with the children.  

What the authors say…

Michael Rosen, author of The Laugh Out Loud Joke Book, said: “I can remember with great fondness the way my brother and I used to read out jokes to each other. It's a great way of enjoying what books can offer us. With this in mind I put together a joke book and I'm delighted that Beanstalk have put it in their starter pack. Enjoy!”

Philip Ardagh, author of Norman the Norman from Normandy, said: "Tom Morgan-Jones and I are DELIGHTED that Norman the Norman from Normandy has found his way into the Beanstalk starter packs, aren't we Tom? Tom's nodding as he's busily drawing Norman riding Truffle, the not-so-wild boar. Why are we so pleased. "Because Beanstalk is the best!" I was going to say that, Tom... *Mutters* Anyway, it's a fantastic scheme and we're all-three pleased to be a part of it. All four, if you count Truffle."

Pippa Goodhart, author of You Choose, said: “Of all the more than a hundred books I've written, You Choose is the one that I most often seen in crumpled, torn and drawn-on condition.  That is wonderful because it reflects a book being used and used and used to bits by children! I was a child who loved listening to stories and playing stories, but I found reading very hard, and 'reading books' scary.  In You Choose, the text is incidental to the main task of 'reading' the pictures, and so the pressure of a chunk of text that has to be read is removed.  As they make their choices through the book, children become co-creators with the author and illustrator, rather than passive recipients of an already formed story.  What they take from the book really is 'theirs', and that makes it both fun and empowering.  My hope is that this is a book which helps less sure children make friends with books.”

Nick Sharratt, Illustrator for You Choose, Wriggle and Roar, Mixed Up Fairy Tales, The Big Book of Magical Mix Ups said: “As a huge admirer of Beanstalk and the vital work they do in primary schools, I'm truly delighted that not one but four of the books I've illustrated have been selected for inclusion for their starter packs, geared to help set children on the path to confident reading.”

Julia Donaldson, author of Wriggle and Roar!, said: "I have great admiration for the work that Beanstalk do and I am delighted that they have selected Wriggle and Roar for this brilliant new initiative"

Kes Gray, author of Oi Frog!, said: “Oi Beanstalk! Thank you so much for including Oi Frog in your reading scheme! I’ll trust you to get your seating arrangements right.”

Andy Stanton, author of You’re a Bad Man, Mr. Gum! Said: “I've been told many times that 'Mr Gum' has helped to get young readers started and it never fails to give me goosebumps - what a privilege it is to write for children. My stories might be silly, but I take writing and reading very seriously and am absolutely delighted to be included in Beanstalk's starter pack.”

Axel Scheffler author of Flip Flap Jungle, said: “It’s an honour and pleasure for me to know that Flip Flap Jungle will be introduced to so many children through Beanstalk’s great work in encouraging literacy and the joy of reading.”

Nosy Crow Books said: “We very much admire and value the work that Beanstalk does, so we are delighted that Nosy Crow books have been chosen for inclusion in their starter packs.”

To view Beanstalk’s ‘Top 40’ books visit the reading resources area of the website: