Wednesday, 18 December 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Various - The Phoenix Colossal Comics Collection, Volume Three 

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 16 December 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 “So… Do You Draw the Pictures?” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 12 December 2019

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

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

What would you do? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Go to Victoria skateboard park. Awesome 

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Lyn Gardner - Rose Campion and the Christmas Mystery - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

Here we have a brilliant conclusion to the Campion series by Lyn Gardner. This fantastically thrilling finale was published in October 2019 by Nosy Crow Books. I have to say that this is my personal favourite of all three books. These could really be read in any order as you can jump in and out of any of the books and everything will still run like clockwork.  

So let's raise the curtains on another season at Campions' Palace of Varieties and Wonders. Set in Victorian London, a fantasy treat awaits any reader. You will instantly be re-acquainted with brilliant characters and their vibrant and lively surroundings. Full of heart, courage, and friendship which all help the characters through this dangerous adventure.

Rose Campion and her friends have more to worry about in this adventure than who'll be filling the role of Cinderella. The narrative of this book is deathly and dark. It's full of mischief due to the arrival of the Duchess, a deadly ruler of the London criminal underworld, who has just been released from prison. She has her sights set, not only on Rose but also on a priceless emerald necklace that has just arrived in the city. Meanwhile, Campions' is playing host to the mysterious hypnotist Madame de Valentina and murder is afoot as the narrative takes a disturbing turn of events. However, which characters will be affected in this story? 

This is a Christmas mystery for young and old, as the story whips up a theatrical storm. I loved every single minute of this book as it is full of song, dance, and much laughter. It's a big show stopper with a fantastic plot. This sleuthing novel will keep you guessing until the very end of the book. The timely twists and turns deserve an encore as there are many secrets to uncover. The narrative wraps up nicely pulling together all the threads from this book and the previous book nicely, which leaves you, the reader, feeling very satisfied. This is a truly lovely series that will not be easily forgotten.  

Monday, 9 December 2019

Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars Final 2019/2020 + £10 Book Voucher + Mystery Book Prize

Hello Everybody. Are you ready for the final of Mr. Ripley's Book Cover Wars?
Over the last five weeks, different authors, illustrators, and publishers have battled for their book covers to be in the big final. As a result, we now have five worthy winners who have the chance to be crowned with the title 'Mr. Ripley's Enchanted book cover of the year 2019/20'. 

So without any further waiting, let the final battle of Book Cover Wars commence . . . . 

As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your favourite book cover, but you will also be in with the opportunity to win a £10 national book voucher and a mystery book. 

If you are interested then all you need to do is:
  • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll below 
  • Leave a comment through this post or poll - VOTE HERE
  • Share on Twitter @Enchantedbooks. Have fun, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed) the book token/book prize. Please note that this competition is open to the UK only
  • This poll will end on 15.12.2019 at midnight UK time 
So here are the FIVE winning brilliant book covers for you to vote for.

BOOK ONE: Joan Haig - Tiger Skin Rug - Published by Cranachan Publishing (6 Feb. 2020). Book Cover Designed by Annie Glennie - VOTE HERE

BOOK TWO: Nick Tomlinson - The Ghouls of Howlfair - Published by Walker Books (3 Oct. 2019). Book Cover Illustration by Kim Geyer  - VOTE HERE

BOOK THREE: Nizrana Farook - The Girl Who Stole An Elephant - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (9 Jan. 2020). Book Cover Illustration by David Dean  - VOTE HERE

BOOK FOUR: Sita Brahmachari - Where the River Runs Gold Published by Orion Children's Book (1 July 2019). Book Cover Illustration by Evan Hollingdale/Designed by Samuel Perrett - VOTE HERE

BOOK FIVE: P.G Bell - The Brain Robbery - (A Train to Impossible Places Adventure) - Published by Usborne Publishing (3 Oct 2019. Book Cover Illustration by Flavia Sorrentino/Katharine Millichope and Team - VOTE HERE

Monday, 2 December 2019

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Book Picks US - December 2019

Ben Guterson (Author), Chloe Bristol (Illustrator) - The Winterhouse Mysteries - Published by Henry Holt and Co (December 31, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1250123923 - Hardback 

Danger, intrigue, and the power of family combine in The Winterhouse Mysteries, the fast-paced conclusion to Ben Guterson and Chloe Bristol's illustrated, enchanting Winterhouse middle-grade trilogy.
Its springtime at Winterhouse and Elizabeth is settling into the joyful chaos of her new home. But it isn’t long before she and Freddy are drawn into an ominous new mystery. Guests at the hotel start behaving oddly, and Elizabeth’s powers manifest in thrilling―sometimes frightening―new ways. As unnatural tremors shake the foundations of Winterhouse, Elizabeth hears cries for help from Gracella Winters, a villain she’d thought dead and gone for good. 
Elizabeth’s discovery of a rare book containing secrets of an ancient ritual leads to a tragic realization: someone at the hotel is trying to help Gracella rise again. Can Elizabeth and Freddy banish these threats and protect the future of Winterhouse once and for all?

Terry Lynn Johnson - Dog Driven - Published by HMH Books for Young Readers (December 3, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1328551597 - Hardback 
From the author of Ice Dogs comes a riveting adventure about a musher who sets out to prove her impaired vision won't hold her back from competing in a rigorous sled race through the Canadian wilderness. Perfect for fans of Gary Paulsen.

McKenna Barney is trying to hide her worsening eyesight and has been isolating herself for the last year. But at the request of her little sister, she signs up for a commemorative mail run race in the Canadian wilderness—a race she doesn’t know if she can even see to run. 
Winning would mean getting her disease—and her sister’s—national media coverage, but it would also pit McKenna and her team of eight sled dogs against racers from across the globe for three days of shifting lake ice, sudden owl attacks, snow squalls, and bitterly cold nights.

 A page-turning adventure about living with disability and surviving the wilderness, Dog Driven is the story of one girl’s self-determination and the courage it takes to trust in others.

Kate Davies - The Crims at Sea - Published by HarperCollins Children's  (December 10, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-0062494160 - Hardback 
The hapless Crim family sets sail on their final adventure in the zaniest installment of the Crims series, perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket and Caroline Carlson!
Imogen Crim has been terribly bored since she returned to Blandington. So when her nemesis-turned-best friend Ava Kruk offers to swing by the Crims’ dreadful beach vacation in Dullport and rescue her in her stolen submarine, Imogen quickly agrees. A real heist with a real villain—this is the excitement Imogen has been looking for.
But before Imogen and Ava can accomplish their mission, the entire Crim family catches up to them, dressed in their pirate-y finest. And what starts as an innocent (well, for a boat full of criminals) quest for buried treasure is about to become a stand-off with an up-and-coming super-villain called The Gull.
If Imogen has any hope of saving her family from his claws—and returning to her vacation—she’ll have to trust a Kruk with her life.

Romily Bernard - The Monster Hypothesis - Published by Disney-Hyperion (December 10, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1368028554 - Hardback 

Welcome to Bohring-home to 453 people, 2,053 alligators, and one monster curse. Correction: home to 454 people, now that Kick Winter is living in the swamp Hollows with her Grandma Missouri, the town (fake) psychic. Bohring is anything but boring for Kick who has already blown a hole through the kitchen floor, befriended a chicken-eating gator, and discovered that the town's hundred-year curse is upon them.

It's the Bohring curse and all the kids are about to become monsters-or so the legend goes. People are worried-except for Kick. She knows there's a scientific explanation for everything, especially curses and monsters. But Kick is the new kid in school and she's determined to make a name for herself . . . by pretending to be psychic.

According to her calculations: one teeny-tiny life + (fake) psychic skills = popularity. But when kids start disappearing and glowing creatures start showing up, Kick's theory quickly evaporates in a puff of foul-smelling swamp gas. Can Kick use her (real) science smarts to prove the curse is a hoax? Or is it just-maybe-sort of-somehow possible the curse is here?