Thursday, 25 February 2021

Interview with Children's Author Tamsin Mori - The Weather Weaver (Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books)


Hello Everybody. We hope you are all feeling more positive about the future. Reading is certainly a good way to help raise the spirits.  One of our children's book picks for March 2021 is The Weather Weaver by Tamsin Mori. The book will be published by UCLan Publishing on the 4th March 2021. We thought this was a cracking opportunity to contact the author and ask some questions to find out more about this wonderful book and the amazing cover you can see above. 

We really hope you enjoy reading this post as much as we did asking the questions. If you would like to know more about the author of the book you can drop us both a tweet on Twitter: @Enchantedbooks or @MoriTamsin Thanks for reading and have a nice day.


Can you reveal a bit more about the book than what the synopsis tells us? That's very tricky without spoilers, but hopefully, the answers to the rest of these questions will give you some clues.


When did you get the first idea about writing this book?

The seeds of the story were sown when I was very small. Whenever we went back to Shetland to visit family, I didn't want to leave. I realised that if the fog came in, the planes couldn't leave, and we'd get to stay a little longer, so I used all my powers of persuasion to call in the fog. I wrote poems, spells, secret recipes... And sometimes, it worked! Once, we got a whole extra week in Shetland. The fog had heard me. At that point, I became convinced that I had secret weather powers of my own. 


Stella, who is the main character in the book, discovers she is a Weather Weaver. What is a Weather Weaver and how important is this to the plot?

A weather weaver is someone who can choose the weather - usually with the help of a cloud who's taken a liking to them. 

Weather Weaving is fairly central to the plot - early in the book, Stella catches a small but very feisty cloud. Their early attempts at weather weaving are erratic, verging on dangerous. It takes a close relationship, an amount of self-awareness, and great deal of trust, to be able to conjure different weathers at will. Stella and her cloud find almost every aspect of that quite challenging! But with Tamar as her mentor, Stella is in good hands.


What made you write a book set in the Shetland Islands?

Shetland is my heart's home. Though I've never lived there, half my family are Shetlanders - my mum grew up in Scalloway. All the stories I loved when I was small originated in Shetland - both island myths and family legends - and they took root in my imagination. Most of the traditional myths belong to the land, or the sea - I wanted to write one that celebrated the wide, expressive Shetland skies.


What are the top things to do when visiting the Shetland Islands? (We'd really like to visit the Shetland Islands)

That could fill several books and besides, it depends what time of year you go there! 

In winter, there's the northern lights (the mirrie dancers), and the viking festival, Up Helly Ah! 

The Weather Weaver is set in summer, which is perfect for puffin spotting - the RSPB sanctuary at Sumburgh lighthouse is a great location for that. If you want to visit the broch which features in the book, the boat trip to Mousa is a must. You can see a multitude of amazing seabirds there - bonxies, guillemots, arctic terns, and storm petrels - and climb to the top of the broch for yourself! Though, fair warning, it's a long way up. In Lerwick, the Shetland Times Bookshop is a favourite haunt of mine (surprise!). The Shetland Museum and Mareel are both definitely worth a visit and the Peerie Shop makes outstanding Cullen Skink. There's also whale watching, the otter sanctuary, Shetland Wool Week, awesome food, incredible unspoilt landscape and empty beaches... sigh. I can't wait to get back there.


What emotions do you want the reader to experience when reading this book?

All of them! One of the key themes in the book is that there aren't any 'bad' emotions - every single one has its place and its purpose. Different weathers reflect and respond to our different moods - emotions as wide as the sky. Stella discovers that, though perhaps a little too late...


What would be your favourite type of weather day?

Bright and blustery, perhaps with a few showers and rainbows to liven things up a bit. Though having said that, I do love a good thunderstorm!


You went to eight different schools in your childhood. Do you think you have gained any skills/attributes by going to so many? 

I think it taught me self-reliance, and perhaps gave me an insight into the similarities and subtle differences between how people think and behave in different places. I wouldn't recommend it, but it was useful in the story. Stella experiences some of that sense of displacement and a deep longing to belong. 


What do you think of the book cover illustration and did you have any input into it?

I adore the cover illustration. David Dean has captured the full spectrum of weather magic, with Stella standing small and brave in the centre. I was bowled over when I first saw it: "It's like David read my mind!". My husband pointed out that it was more likely he'd read my book.

I was delighted that UCLAN publishing asked for my input, though to be honest, David created an illustration that immediately felt right for the book. The only thing I was picky about was Grandpa's but'n'ben (a type of small, simple building) on the back cover - it was a grand two-storey house in the first iteration. 


What books do you read for pleasure? Is there anything that stands out for you recently? 

I read a real mixture of books - middle-grade, YA, adult fiction, and non-fiction too. Some middle-grade books that I've adored recently are: Vi Spy, by the brilliant Maz Evans, The Castle of Tangled Magic by Sophie Anderson, and Gargantis by Thomas Taylor. I'm waiting impatiently to jump into A Tangle of Spells by Michelle Harrison, but my daughter has first dibs.


Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Elle McNicoll - Show Us Who You Are - (Knights Of) Book Review (Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books)


Some books are really special as they just hit you right between the eyes. This is the second book by Elle McNicoll entitled Show Us Who You Are and it will certainly knock your socks off. Published by Knights Of on 4th March 2021 with a stunning book cover illustration by Kay Wilson. After reading the blurb, the concept of this story was very intriguing. However, I did not expect the totality of the story inside. What do you think if you were made perfect after you die?

In all honesty, this is not a book I would normally seek out and buy. With everything we are all going through, I'm mainly reading magical fantasy. I'm really looking for worlds that are uplifting and make you feel good - that type of plot. In contrast, this is not that type of book and maybe a tricky read if you are not in the right frame of mind. However, sometimes you have to bite the fantasy bullet and give it a go. This book certainly provokes a lot of thought - it is inspirational and challenging.  

If you do feel able to read this and to have your emotions scattered on the wind then you will not be disappointed. This book asks so many questions of the reader and is one of the saddest books I've read for a long time.  You really immerse yourself in the world of the two main characters. Cora and Adrien are two peas in a lonely pod (Cora is Autistic and Adrien has ADHD). The author has portrayed them both so well and with such understanding, it is magnificent and so heartbreaking to read. In some places in the story, there was even a tear running down my cheek. 

The plot is so clever - it is a great story in which to write both characters into. I don't really want to mention the plot details of the story as I want you to read this book open-minded. However, themes are around being different and accepting that being normal might not always be the way forward.  

This is a black and white story told in a technicolor rainbow that showers empathy and emotion. It's a holographic 3-D experience that will cut through daily life by showing diversity through the working minds that we should all read and hopefully begin to understand. Everything is told with immense compassion and bags of heart. Every page is packed full of adventure, technology, holograms, sorrow, and some timely mischief that slices some of the emotional tension away. It's a five-star read - it's something different and unique that should be read and loved. 



Saturday, 20 February 2021

The Best New Children's Book Picks March 2021 - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

 

Struan Murray - Shipwreck Island - Published by Puffin (4th March 2021)

Ellie and Seth's breathtaking magical adventure continues in the sequel to the much-loved Orphans of the Tide.

After defeating the Enemy and escaping the Inquisition, Ellie and Seth have fled the City and crossed the endless ocean in search of peace and the truth about Seth's lost memories.

Arriving on the shores of a colourful tropical island ruled by a mysterious queen, it seems their hardships may be behind them. But there is trouble brewing in paradise, and soon Ellie and Seth find themselves caught up in a dangerous struggle for power - and forced to confront terrible truths from the past . . .


Danny Wallace & Gemma Correll -  The Day the Screens Went Blank - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK (18 Mar. 2021)

A hilarious middle-grade road-trip adventure from bestselling author, comedian, and presenter Danny Wallace, with illustrations throughout from Gemma Correll. Perfect for fans of Liz Pichon and David Baddiel!

Imagine if all the technology in the world just . . . STOPPED.

When ten-year-old Stella wakes up to discover a world full of BLANK screens, her family, town, and in fact, the whole world seems to have been thrown into chaos. And what about poor Grandma who is stranded at the other end of the country?

Cue a rollicking madcap road trip, full of driving disasters and family fallouts, as they set off on a rescue mission. And along the way Stella and her family discover that being away from screens might not be the Worst Thing Ever, and even though they might not be able to rely on technology anymore, they can rely on each other instead.


John Kelly - The Monster Doctor: Slime Crime - Published by Macmillan Children's Books  (4 Mar. 2021)
Are you looking for the best monster medicine EVER?

Then look no further! FIXITALL will heal tentacle pain, fix leaky noses and stop your limbs falling off – in fact, it will heal practically any common monster illness. (It must be true, because it says so right there on the packet.)

When an annoying saleswoman called Ms Diagnosis arrives at the monster doctor surgery, she swears that her new wonder medicine can cure any monster malady. Ozzy and the monster doctor aren't so sure, and their suspicions are raised when the patients try the unusually slimy samples and strange things start happening . . . 

Laughter is the best medicine, so give yourself a healthy dose of fun and silliness with Monster Doctor: Slime Crime. The third in a spectacularly slimy series of monster adventures written and illustrated by John Kelly that will have you roaring with laughter



Tamsin Mori - The Weather Weaver - Published by UCLan Publishing (4 Mar. 2021)

What if you could befriend a cloud? 

                                                 What weather would you choose?

What if the weather matched itself to your mood, whether you wanted it to, or not?

11-year-old Stella has returned home to Shetland to spend the summer with her Grandpa, but it's nothing like she remembers. Grandpa is lost in his grief for Gran, the island is bleak and Stella feels trapped, until she encounters an old woman, Tamar, who can spin rainbows and call hurricanes. With the help of Nimbus, a feisty young storm cloud, Stella begins to learn the craft of weather weaving. But when her cloud brain-fogs Grandpa and The Haken (a sea witch) starts to close in, she realises that magic comes with big responsibilities. It will take all her heart and courage to face the coming storm...