Sunday, 18 September 2022

The Best Children's US Book Picks September 2022 - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books


Lindsay Currie - The Girl in White - Published by Sourcebooks Young Readers (September 6, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1728236544 - Hardback - Age: 8+

Mallory hasn't quite adapted to life in her new town of Eastport yet. Maybe it's because everyone is obsessed with keeping the town's reputation as the most cursed town in the US.

And thanks to the nightmares she's had since arriving, Mallory hardly sleeps. Combined with the unsettling sensation of being watched, she's quickly becoming convinced there's more to her town. Something darker.

When Mallory has a terrifying encounter with the same old woman from her dreams, she knows she has to do something―but what? With Eastport gearing up to celebrate the anniversary of their first recorded legend Mallory is forced to investigate the one legend she's always secretly been afraid of . . . Sweet Molly.

Colin Meloy - The Stars Did Wander Darkling - Published by ‎ Balzer + Bray (September 13, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0063015517 - Hardback - Age: 8+ 

A suspenseful and atmospheric horror set in 1980s Oregon, perfect for fans of Stranger Things, Neil Gaiman, and Margaret Peterson Haddix, from New York Times bestselling author and the Decemberists’ lead singer/songwriter, Colin Meloy.

Maybe Archie Coomes has been watching too many horror movies.

All of a sudden, the most ordinary things have taken on a sinister edge: a penny on a doormat. An odd man in a brown suit under a streetlamp. The persistent sound of an ax chopping in the middle of the night.

He keeps telling himself that this is Seaham, a sleepy seaside town where nothing ever happens. Or at least nothing did, until his dad’s construction company opened up the cliff beneath the old—some say cursed—Langdon place.

Soon, though, he and his friends can’t deny it: more and more of the adults in town are acting strangely. An ancient, long-buried evil has been unleashed upon the community, and it’s up to the kids to stop it before it’s too late. . . .

Mary Downing Hahn - What We Saw: A Thriller - Published by Clarion Books (September 6, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0358414414 - Hardback - Age: 8+

A chilling murder mystery lies at the heart of this page-turning thriller about a missing teacher, small-town secrets, and turbulent tween friendships from the master of middle-grade horror Mary Downing Hahn.

When best friends Abbi and Skylar witness a clandestine meeting between a mysterious woman and someone in a dark van, they're thrilled. Finally, a mystery to spice up the summer!

Who could these people be? Why are they meeting? Are they spies? Criminals? The two girls are determined to find out. But then a local woman goes missing and is found dead in the woods. And Abbi and Skylar realize that their detective work could hold the keys to solving her murder. Suddenly, sleuthing isn't so fun anymore.

As tensions rise and their friendship frays, the girls find themselves in increasing danger, and must choose between keeping a secret or exposing a life-altering truth.

Kalyn Josephson - Ravefall - Published by Delacorte Press (September 6, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593483589 - Hardback - Age: 9+ 

  • One magical inn, two kids with supernatural powers, and an ancient Celtic creature trying to destroy their world by Halloween night...
    Halloweentown meets Supernatural in this spooky middle-grade series from the acclaimed author of the Storm Crow duology!

    Thirteen-year-old Annabella Ballinkay has never been normal, even by her psychic family’s standards. Every generation uses their abilities to help run the Ravenfall Inn, a sprawling, magical B&B at the crossroads of the human world and the Otherworld. But it’s hard to contribute when your only power is foreseeing death.
    So when fourteen-year-old Colin Pierce arrives at Ravenfall searching for his missing older brother and the supernatural creature who killed their parents, Anna jumps at the chance to help. But the mysteries tied to Colin go much deeper than either of them expects. . . .
    As the two team up to find answers, they unearth Colin’s family’s secret past and discover that Colin has powers beyond his imagination. And now the supernatural creature, one with eerie origins in Celtic mythology, is coming after 
    him. If Anna and Colin can’t stop the creature by Halloween night, the veil to the Otherworld could be ripped open—which would spell destruction for their world as they know it.

Friday, 16 September 2022

THALAMUS PLANK - Author/Illustrator - Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books


Hello Everybody. Today we are delighted to be able to share the fantastic interview with Thalamus Plank - what a great name by the way. Thalmus is a very talented author/illustrator who has a fantastic creative style that might be new to you. He is always dreaming of an opportunity to demonstrate his creative talents. So we asked him some in-depth questions to find out more about his work and hopefully fuel his dream for bigger things to come. If you want to find out more about him or check out his other work then visit his website: or have a chat with him on Twitter:

  • ‘Help, My Granny is a Smuggler!’ is a book you are really proud of so what can you tell us about it, and will or has it been published? 

I’m proud of this book because it was ‘Highly Commended’ by the judges at the Faber and Andlyn BAME, (FAB) Prize – which made it the first piece that I’d written that was acknowledged by people in the publishing industry as being of a standard. That is both an incredible confidence boost and a relief to a writer and an acknowledgment that you’re on the right path! It hasn’t yet been published… so if the publishing world feels that it is missing a humorous story about a granny that goes smuggling in secret with ‘the fearsome four’, and that involves a spot of detective work by her brave grandson, Barrie, then they know where to come!  

  • They say that a picture paints a thousand words, what do your illustrations say about you? 

I suppose that the things you write and draw do reflect something of your character… I don’t want to sound like I don’t take life seriously, but I do always seem to see beauty and light in even the darkest moments, and always find something that can bring a smile to my face. Whilst I don’t bury my head in the sand concerning the more troublesome aspects of the world we live in; I feel that they are currently more than abundant right now so don’t really have the desire to invent any more. That said, I wouldn’t shy away from depicting moments of sadness, as long as strands of hope can be drawn from the narrative. 

  • What kind of projects do you like working on? 

I do enjoy animal portraits - as you know, I’m involved in animal rescue and house several ‘un-releasables’ as well as a handful of dogs, so I get to observe their incredible beauty close up on a daily basis – you can’t help but be inspired! I've been trying my hand at book covers and am really enjoying the challenge of that, both the summing up of the book with the art and designing the layout. I particularly enjoy black and white illustrations (for chapter books and upwards) and am currently working on some for a chapter book that I have recently penned.  

  • Have you always enjoyed drawing and writing? Is this something you wanted to focus on as a career from an early age? 

I was brought up in a creative household with a blend of cultures, my English mother is an incredible artist and my Guyanese father is a passionate lover of words and literature, - (His letters are eloquent and descriptive and reading his postcards is like delving into an excerpt from a travel guide!) and my siblings are artistic too. I learned pretty much all I know about drawing and painting from watching my mother at work. My grandmother also used to paint, and between them, they taught me so much. Whilst I was not formally trained, I could never claim to be ‘self-taught’, I had the very best teachers. My grandfather (a fellow Yorkshire man!) wrote poetry and my father was always reading and educated us in the classics, he used to write short stories and had several published in his work magazine. He has recently taken up painting too! So yes, drawing and writing were a big part of my childhood - I still have the very first story I wrote, written in a Postman Pat notebook. I must have been five or six (I hope – very embarrassing if it turned out I was much older!!) it’s about a magic man in a grocery shop buying potatoes – riveting stuff! But, no, although making art and crafts, and writing, have been a serious past-time, it was never something I really considered as a career; it’s only in recent years that I have become focused on pursuing this path with vigour!  

  • How do you capture your ideas as they come to you and when are you at your best creatively? 

I discovered a few years ago that I have Aphantasia, meaning that I have no ‘mind’s eye’. (Obviously, this was how I experienced life, I just never knew that it was a thing) Like many who have it, I always thought that picturing things in your mind was just something people said, and didn’t realise that most people can see actual images in their minds! Apparently, some people can see moving images, like watching a film – in your head!! I can only imagine how amazing that be! I, on the other hand, see nothing, so when it comes to capturing ideas, I rely a lot on taking photos (my phone storage is always at capacity!)  and I recall feelings and try to capture them in the images that I draw. Feelings are also important in writing too - when I read a book, clearly, I won’t be picturing the story in my mind, but I will very much feel what I read. To that end, I’m actually quite selective about what I read. So, yes, lots of photos (I even keep the blurry ones as they still invoke how I was feeling at the time it was taken) and jotting down comments and quick sketches– usually on kitchen roll! 

I’m a night person, so from about 10 pm - 4 am (ish) would be my hours of choice, but the reality of life is that you take any and every minute you can grab, whenever, wherever and just be grateful!  

  • If you could pick two book covers illustrated by other illustrators which would you select? What is it about these two covers that particularly appeals to you? 

Edward Bettison is a wonderful designer and his cover of ‘Stone’ by Finbar Hawkins is a joy to look at, the same goes for his cover of ‘Witch’, also by Finbar Hawkins.  Whilst I haven’t yet read this book, so can’t say whether or not it captures the story (although I’m sure it does), I’m so taken by the artwork. I love the silhouette style art with a limited colour palette – less really is more!


My second choice is the beautiful cover of ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse’, written and illustrated by the very talented Charlie Mackesy.  I love the simplicity of a few lines that manage to convey so much, both as a picture and in the feelings it evokes. So very powerful and yet so minimal, so simple and yet so deep.


Both are very different in style, but each one is beautiful! 

  • Could you draw your favourite superhero/book character/famous person in a style that relates to you and share it with us? 

I’ve had to draw you three! The first two are fanart from the world of The Moomins that were created in the amazing mind of Tove Jansson. Snufkin is who I aspire to be like. Snufkin is a free spirit, connected to nature, surrounded by music, and loves the sea – all very strong passions of mine, however, my actual day-to-day reality is more that of the dear Hemulen, who is a bit eccentric, studies fauna with his magnifying glass (I do have a microscope!) and likes to drink tea. I’m probably a mixture of them both, so the third picture is my Moomin mash-up – a ‘Snufulen’ maybe or perhaps a ‘Hemkin’! 

  • What one thing would you like people to know about you? 

Other than, ‘I’m available for representation!', I’d like them to know just how grateful I am to every single person who has inspired and encouraged me in any way in both my writing and my illustration, from those that are closest to me and encourage me on a daily basis and allow me the time and space to create (In particular, Mr. Slid, my family and SeaDogBobL), to those on social media who I have never met, and probably never will in person, (like your good self and like Zillah Bethell who continue to be so supportive!) and everyone in between – every kind comment is appreciated from the heart as is the creative work that they all share too. I’ve learned so much from looking at other peoples’ output. There’s an incredible world of creativity out there!!  

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Tim Tilley - WITCHSTORM - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books


Are you ready to return to another world written and illustrated by Tim Tilley? If the answer is YES then I'm delighted to introduce the author's new book which will be published in September 2022 by USBORNE. You only need to look at the cover for it to pique your curiosity. However, within the covers, this story is another masterclass in creating a narrative that has all the ingredients to make your fantasy dreams come true. 

We have all the characteristics of the first book as it is set in the same story world as Harklights. The ecological nature subtly plays out in the story; it really gives the book grounding as it asks What If questions of the reader. For example, what if you woke up after three hundred years, how much of the natural landscapes, forests, and wild open spaces would have disappeared? What would you feel? This is the idea that intertwines itself with a magical ride of joy, fun, and puzzle solving. 

The story is an illustrative delight - full of family adventure and wonderfully colourful characters that light up the sky like a rainbow. However, also be prepared to travel head-on into the eye of a storm and face a magical battle that explodes with action and drama. If this sound like your adventure then this is a great Halloween read for you. So pull up your socks and join Will on an EPIC quest filled with missing parents, lost treasure, mythical storm-lions, ruined towers, and many broomstick chases through a plot thicker than witches' soup. What more could you possibly ask for? 

I really love the mix of classic fairytale themes in Tim's books. He is a  FANTASTIC daydreamer; I'm sure he must have a cauldron of ideas that he brews and stews. Each book is a magical journey that will both endure the test of time but also be keenly loved by everyone interested in a good story. This is another sure-fire winner from one of my favourite authors and publishing houses. Thank you for sending this book; it was a real privilege to read. Keep up the amazing work! 

Friday, 2 September 2022

New Children's Book Picks September 2022 - Post One - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Dream a world away in the best children's book picks this September 2022. This is the first post of some truly great adventures you can have. Just turn the page and off you go. What are you reading and loving this month? 

Helena Duggan - The Light Thieves - Published by Usborne Publishing (1 Sept. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1474991094 - Paperback - Age: 8+ 

Clever, quirky and hugely imaginative, discover the eagerly anticipated new series from the bestselling author of A Place Called Perfect. Who would you trust to save the world...a boy or a billionaire? The earth has shifted on its axis and a mysterious dark mark has appeared on the sun - the whole world is in peril! But billionaire tech genius Howard Hansom has a plan... When Grian's sister goes missing he's convinced she has run off to Hansom's new city to help save the world. But when Grian and his two friends Jeffrey and Shelli track her there they find that nothing is quite as it seems. Why is everything so secret? Where is the mysterious Area 13? What does Howard Hansom want with all the people he has enticed to live in his city? The days are getting darker but what's really happening to the sun?

Carlie Sorosiak - Always, Clementine (Letters from a Runway Mouse) - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (1 Sept. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1839941085 - Paperback - Age: 8

A funny, wise and heartwarming story, with a truly one-of-a-kind hero, from the author of the highly-acclaimed I, Cosmo and My Life as a Cat.

I am an optimist. A very difficult thing to be, sometimes, at three inches tall.

Clementine is a genius. She can calculate pi to 69,689 places, remembers the exact moment she was born, and dreams in Latin.

She's also a mouse.

And when she escapes from the lab which has bred her, Clementine discovers that it's not enough to be the smartest mouse in history if she wants to survive in the real world - especially while the scientists who kept her are trying to recover their prize specimen. So, together with her new human friends, Clementine must find a way to earn her freedom - for good.

Hayley Hoskins - The Whisperling - Published by Puffin (1 Sept. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0241514504 - Paperback - Age: 8+

When you're dead, you're dead. When you're gone, you're gone.
Unless, of course, you're not.
And that's where I come in.

The year is 1897, and Peggy Devona can speak with ghosts. 

She hides her gift from those afraid of a girl with such powers, terrified of the secrets the dead could reveal through her. But when her best friend is accused of murdering her rich mistress, Peggy knows only she - a whisperling - can save her. 

Peggy escapes to her uncle's psychic emporium in the city, seeking out new ghosts to help her solve Sally's case.

Yet time is running out, and each step towards uncovering the truth also brings Sally one step closer to the gallows. . .

Dashe Roberts - Sticky Pines: The Valley of the Strange - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (1 Sept. 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1788008938 - Paperback - Age: 9+

Things are FREAKY and about to get even FREAKIER in the sleepy American town of Sticky Pines.

Weirdness mounts upon creepiness to create a riotously funny potion in The Valley of the Strange, the latest explosive instalment of the cult sci-fi series for children.

Lucy Sladan has made the biggest, most bizarre discovery of all time ... but still no one believes her. Even her best friend Milo Fisher is not convinced. But his father knows she is on to something. Soon Lucy is in a race to stop Mr Fisher's monstrous efforts to uncover the source of the sticky-pine sap that is making his fortune ... and so risking the destruction of the world.

Perfect for the younger siblings of Stranger Things fans, Sticky Pines offers laugh-out-loud, hair-raising sci-fi and mysteries aplenty. The TRUTH is OUT THERE - are you ready for it?

The Valley of the Strange is the third book in the Sticky Pines Series, join Lucy and Milo for more adventures in The Bigwoof Conspiracy and The Thing at Black Hole Lake