Showing posts with label March 2021. Show all posts
Showing posts with label March 2021. Show all posts

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Jaclyn Moriarty - The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 


Welcome to the third book in the series The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty. It has already been published by Levine Querido (23 March 2021) in the US. However, the book was first published in the author's native country (Australia) by Allen & Unwin last year (2020). The UK version will be published by Guppy books this coming September (2021). I'm really looking forward to seeing the UK book cover which will be very different from the one above. 

This series is one of my personal all-time favourites. The author is the Queen of Australian children's books as she has written some absolutely stunning stories. This series is so quirky and original that it is an absolute delight to read. The depth of characterisation and the way the storyline connects all the books in the series together is a real work of art. The humour is written cleverly at many levels from deadpan, to truly outrageous. 

The story is another master class on how to keep the reader engrossed without knowing where the plot is going to take you. It's both simple yet deceptive, uplifting, and moralistic. The storyline explores the personal feelings of the characters. We really get to know some of the new characters and find out more about the older ones which is really interesting. 

Imagination and creativity are other amazing attributes to both the book and series. The story is set around Katherine Valley Boarding School which helps to weave the magical story to life with social interaction and keeps you on your fantasy toes. 

This is a book that needs to be explored again and again. It's a very MEMORABLE READ full of mayhem and craziness which is all told in an authentic voice that you will not be able to get out of your head for some time. I would read this book in the order of the series, so if you are in the UK you have time to read the first two books now. However, wherever you are in the world, I would urge you to take a look at which books have been published near you and buy copies today without delay. You will not be disappointed, dear reader.  

Here is the synopsis below for this book.

Esther is a middle child, in her own mind a pale reflection of siblings who are bright, shining stars. Her mother doesn't show the slightest bit of interest, no matter what Esther does. Still, she's content to go back to school, do her best, hang out with her friends, and let others take care of things. 

But her best friends aren't AT school when she gets there. Why didn't they tell her they wouldn't be coming back? Why were they silent all summer? But stuff like that happens. And it's bad luck that her new teacher makes Esther the butt of all kinds of jokes. Mrs. Pollock is rumored to be an ogre--and maybe she IS one. Could be. 

Then things go from unfortunate to outright dangerous. The mountains surrounding the school--usually sparkling with glaciers and lakes, alive with Faeries, and sheltering a quaint town with really great bakeries--are now crowded with Shadow Mages, casting a noticeable pall, and clearly--to Esther--signifying something very dark and threatening. As the people she might have depended on to help are either strangely absent or in hiding, it's left to ordinary, middle-child Esther (just Esther) to act. But she'll have to burst out of the box of mediocrity she's been but in, and do something absolutely extraordinary. 

Monday, 5 April 2021

Tsunami Girl by Julian Sedgwick (Author), Chie Kutsuwada (Illustrator) - Guest Post Interview - Guppy Books

 


Hello Everybody! (みなさん、こんにちは) One of my favourite books of the year has been Tsunami Girl by Julian Sedgwick. It has been brilliantly illustrated by Chie Kutsuwada. Told through both prose and manga, it's a fantastic but very poignant cultural reality. If you would like to read my review then follow the link HERE. This post is an interview with Julian and Chie about the partnership between author and illustrator and the origins of this amazing book. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have. 

There is a link at the bottom of the post to watch the live book launch and a place where you can buy signed copies of this special book. Enjoy and see you soon. 

Julian writes: Two things in particular worried me about researching and writing Tsunami Girl. The first was to earn the trust and support of affected communities on the Fukushima coast, and create a story that would do justice and respect to the heavy themes of loss, trauma, damage and recovery. If I hadn’t had such a positive reaction from the towns I visited near the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant, I would have abandoned the idea. 


But secondly - even after winning that trust, and friendship – I also worried a lot about whether my idea of combining a prose and manga story could work. It took many, many notebooks, early abandoned drafts and plot diagrams to find a way to combine the main prose part of the novel  (which tells central character Yūki’s story) with the manga inserts that show another angle – another world even – and highlight Yuki’s own creation, a diminutive superhero called Half Wave. 


Even when I had the main shape of an idea, and a contract with my new publisher, Guppy Books, I still had to convince an experienced manga artist that this would work. It was at this point that a mutual friend introduced me to Chie Kutsuwada, and – after our own discussion about motivations and trust! - our collaboration began. 


Below, we chat about the practical process involved in weaving manga and prose into one book.



JULIAN: Hi Chie! I’m still so delighted that I found you to bring the manga sections of Tsunami Girl to life. For a long time I worried whether the idea would work, and what a manga artist would make of my script. Did you have any worries about the technical aspects of tying prose and manga together? And was there anything that particularly excited – or worried you - about the task?


CHIE: Hi Julian! So do I! I’m still feeling honoured and lucky to be involved in your brave and epic project! 

Well, I actually didn’t have many worries. I just liked the idea of prose and manga together. And when I read your text, I felt sure that it would work well. The aspect I was most careful about was this: I had to make sure that all the characters ‘looked’ the same in both the prose and in the manga parts where readers can actually see the characters’ faces. So, I tried to imagine the whole book visually first. By doing so, I could get an even approach to, for example, how each character makes their facial expressions. How about you, Julian? How did you make the text go back and forth between prose and manga seamlessly?




JULIAN: Through a long process of trial and error! I always knew there would be both manga pages and a manga storyline, but in early versions it was Grandpa who had created Half Wave, and it was the grandchild who helped him imagine one final great instalment of Half Wave’s adventures. At that point the manga story was a separate adventure that mirrored what was happening to our central character Yūki - (who incidentally started out as a boy in the first few drafts!) 

Whilst I could make certain echoes between the prose and manga stories, they just wouldn’t interweave well enough, until I realised the manga story had to be more about the disaster itself, and just show a different, imaginative interaction with that disaster and the recovery. Suddenly I could feel it was going to work. But even then I wondered if the images and text would gel. 

Your early roughs of characters and settings were really convincing and good to see. But I remember it took us a little while to find a version of Half Wave that worked for us all. Maybe you could say a little about developing the characters visually - particularly Half Wave?


CHIE: I know it is not the most practical way to do character design, but I usually wait for inspiration to hit me. In this case, I read the script a few times and repeatedly read some critical parts. I was thinking about the characters, almost all the time, until I started feeling that I knew them.

Usually when I feel I know characters, I can get to see them visually, then I start sketching several different versions. For the Tsunami Girl characters, I did not need to do much planning sketches. As I familiarised with the story, I quite easily started to see them visually because the way you describe them is very clear. I believe you know them very, very well. Because you are the creator, of course to come extent you must know them - but it is beyond that. I feel you really KNOW them, maybe it is because some of the characters were based on your actual friends? Also the image references you showed me helped me a lot.

As for Half Wave, the sketch of him by your son was everything. His sketch, and how Half Wave acts in the story, gave me inspiration - and I think I did not change much from your son’s initial image! What I did was to make him look more manga. That’s it really!  I remember that our discussion was mainly his age and height,  wasn’t it? 




JULIAN: It’s interesting that your process of finding characters as an illustrator is so like mine as a writer. Suddenly - you know they are coming to some kind of life. 

Practically, with Half Wave, getting his height right was really important - he’s an eternal (wise) child, forever on the cusp of growing up, with real wisdom and strength. What we did discuss was how Half Wave should look subtly different from Yūki, Taka, Grandpa and the other people from this world. Half Wave needed to look like he belonged in the liminal space between this world (konoyo) and ‘that world’ (anoyo). After two or three versions, suddenly he was there. A very exciting moment. (And as my younger son comes towards the end of his comic and character design degree at uni, he’ll be glad of that praise!)

It’s interesting, ever since reading Spiegelman’s Maus I’ve been in no doubt that all subject material can be tackled in comic/graphic novel/manga type approaches. I never worried that manga could help carry the weight of the story of the disaster, (especially after reading more widely around  alternative manga or gekiga - and coming across works like the incredible Fukushima Devil Fish by Katsumata Susumu.) Are there any manga series or titles you’d love to see translated and brought into the UK market from Japan? Anything we’re really missing out on?!


CHIE: It was amazing when your visualisation of the characters and mine overlapped and merged to become what they are now…
Well, as for manga which I strongly believe should be translated... all of Yumiko Oshima’s work, especially short stories. She debuted in 1968 and is a very well-established manga artist. She is just one of the best storytellers… (Another manga artist who I think is in that category is Moto Hagio. Her work is getting translated more and more recently.)
Oshima’s work may look quite pretty and delicate, but often the theme is very heavy and philosophical, concerning love (not typical romantic type), birth, death, mental illness, aging, and the end of the world - which are not typical topics for manga works targeting towards young girls. I think this kind of heavy but realistic theme is picked as a theme for manga more and more recently, but she did it more than 30 years ago, and her work does not look dated at all… 

One of many qualities I like about her work is even though she talks about those heavy issues, she does not use bang-in-your-face sensationalism. Her work is very poetic, her choice of words and drawing style is soft, but as you read, it feels like something has gouged at your heart. Very powerful. I hope one day some of her work is properly translated into English. I even want to volunteer to be that translator…!



Click Here if you weren’t able to make the event live – and enter password +aD4@u%4 to watch. Signed copies by both Julian and Chie are available on the Waterstone’s Website Here.

Monday, 22 March 2021

Annelise Gray - Circus Maximus: Race to the Death - Interview with Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

 


Enter the arena and welcome twelve-year-old Dido, who dreams of becoming the first female charioteer, at the great Circus Maximus. The book Circus Maximus: Race to the Death has already been published by Zephyr Books on 4th March 2021. It is set in Ancient Rome and has both historical and strong female character interests. 

I'm delighted to have a brilliant interview with Annelise Gray below to find out more about this intriguing book. We really hope you enjoy this as much as we did and that both the book and setting come alive for you as you read this Q&A. If you have already been fortunate to have read this book then we would love to know your thoughts. Equally, please get in touch if you have any questions. Otherwise, thanks for reading and have a great day. 

1.When and where did you get the idea to write Circus Maximus: Race to the Death?

The inspiration was seeded when I was a quiet child with an obsession for pony adventure stories. My favourite was Enid Bagnold’s National Velvet, which is about a girl called Velvet Brown who wins a horse in a raffle and dreams of riding him to victory at the Grand National. The idea proper for Circus Maximus: Race to the Death came to me about six years ago when I was watching a Formula One race on TV. I was thinking about the lack of female drivers and suddenly had the image of my main character Dido. I envisaged her as a cross between Velvet Brown and Lewis Hamilton – a brave, scrappy girl, living in ancient Rome and hoping to break into the all-male world of chariot racing. It took me several years to really commit to writing the book though – I was very busy with my teaching job. In the end though, Dido kept calling to me and I knew I had to go back.


2.How would you describe the story to potential readers?

An action-packed, mystery-laced historical adventure about a girl, a horse and an impossible dream…


3.Dido dreams of becoming the first female charioteer. When writing her character, how did you inject realism into it? What do you think it would be like to be a girl in Roman times?

It’s a very hard question to answer, just because we know so little, relatively speaking, about the experience of being a girl in antiquity. Women’s voices are almost entirely absent from the Roman literary record – what we know about them is framed in terms of the ideal expected from them by society. So I find it hard to say what it was like to be a girl in Roman times other than that if you were to take me back there in a time machine and ask me to live as one, I’m pretty confident I’d hate it – the lack of freedom and education for a start, as well as the expectation that you live according to the rules made by the male members of your family. One thing that might make it bearable is if you had good friends and there is some evidence for close female friendships in Roman society – something which incidentally, Dido lacks for much of the book. She is an outlier, really, able to live outside the usual societal norms for a number of reasons. The first of these is her age - she’s only twelve when we first meet her, just shy of the typical age for marriage. Another is her class - her father Antonius is a trainer and ex-charioteer, which placed him a long way down the social pecking order and the usual hierarchies might not have mattered so much in that world, which allows Dido the leeway to run wild around the stables where Antonius works at the beginning of the book. Having said that, being a charioteer was most definitely not an acceptable ambition for a girl and both Antonius and Dido know that and accept it (very reluctantly in her case).


4.What kind of research did you do to recreate ancient Roman times? How accurate have you been with the history of this time period?

I have a PhD in Classics and I used to work as a research assistant to authors and TV companies on books and dramas about the ancient world. So although I was keen to avoid the book feeling like a history lesson disguised as a novel, achieving a high standard of historical accuracy was important to me, particularly when it came to conjuring up the world of chariot racing. For that, I drew on a wide range of sources to create as authentic a portrait as possible, including accounts by Roman writers which give us a taste of what it was like to be in the crowd watching a race and the fanatical behaviour of some of the supporters. One of the latter was the Emperor Caligula, who features as a character in my book and really was an obsessive fan of the Green racing faction, as I describe him. Images from ancient art give us our best idea of how the chariots were designed and what the charioteers wore, while we also have inscriptions which tell us the names and colours of the horses and the career statistics of the best drivers. Other sources such as Roman recipe books helped to paint a picture of the sights, tastes, colours and smells of Dido’s world. 


5.Are there any Roman facts that you know that people might be less familiar with?

In terms of the events described in the book, I think readers might be surprised by the echoes between modern and ancient sporting culture. The most successful charioteers were huge celebrities in Rome. People would follow them around the city and even Emperors could get obsessed – Nero is supposed to have cut his hair in the same style as his favourite racing driver. There was a healthy trade in sporting merchandise and you hear about people buying clothes for their children in the colours of their favourite team.

One of my absolute favourite morsels of evidence that I came across when researching Race to the Death was a chariot games token that was found in the grave of a young girl. It evokes such a powerful image – the idea that maybe this girl loved watching the races and her family buried it with her as a keepsake of a happy day. 


6.This is your debut book, what was the writing process like for you?

Race to the Death is my first children’s novel although it’s not the first book I’ve had published. About ten years ago, I wrote a non-fiction account of the women of imperial Rome and a few years after that I wrote a crime novel set in the Roman Republic (both for the adult market and written under the name Annelise Freisenbruch). But the writing process was different for all three books. For this one, I had to learn a new craft. I took plenty of wrong turns along the way and it was a long process, but I also found it a joyful and satisfying experience overall because I finally felt as if I was writing in my true author voice after many years of trying to figure out what that really was.


7.I believe you might be writing another book connected to this one. What have you learned from writing the first book that may help you write the second? 

I am indeed in the process of writing the second in the Circus Maximus series, which will cover the next chapter of Dido’s story. I didn’t really contemplate writing a sequel until I’d finished Race to the Death. Two things I’ve learned are not to include a character unless they have a job to do moving the story forward (several got cut during the edits of Race to the Death) and also to really think about the emotional journey for the characters and try to express that on the page. I didn’t include enough of Dido’s inner voice in earlier drafts of the book and my amazing editor Fiona helped me draw that out.


8.I'm a massive fan of a hardback book. What do you most appreciate about the production of the book?

My publisher, Zephyr, takes great pride in producing books that are beautiful to look at as well as read. I fell in love with the cover as soon as they showed it to me. It’s designed by Levente Szabo and I adore the sense of yearning and aspiration in the way the Dido figure is looking at the Circus in the distance, but also the atmosphere of danger and darkness in it. The little hints of gold are also exquisite, they weren’t there on the proof copy and were the most gorgeous surprise when I took delivery of the final book.


9.During this pandemic what has helped you through any difficult times?

I am incredibly lucky to live in a beautiful, rural part of England and being able to go out for big walks in the open countryside definitely helped my sanity. I’ve found writing extremely difficult at times over the last year – almost tortuous. Cooking is always therapeutic for me and I’ve blithely and willingly sacrificed my waistline for my sense of well-being. Whatever the day throws at you, it’s helpful to know there’s a nice meal, a little glass of wine and a good TV show to watch at the end of it.


10.Could you share some of the favourite books that you own?

I’ve already mentioned that the book which inspired Circus Maximus: Race to the Death more than any other is National Velvet by Enid Bagnold. I am embarrassed to confess that I removed the copy from my school library when I was about ten and I have never given it back. It’s sacred to me. 


Probably my favourite fiction title of all time is I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. More than any other book I can think of, it absolutely captures the uncertainty, idealism and heartache of growing up, all of which I identify with hugely.


My desert island book though is actually How to Eat by Nigella Lawson. I bought my copy when I was at university and just learning to cook. It’s incredibly tatty now and covered in food stains. But I read it and re-read it like a novel. (Favourite recipe of many: the chocolate puddings on page 187. Eat ‘em and weep).


Saturday, 13 March 2021

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

 


Laura Amy Schlitz (Author), Julia Iredale (Illustrator) - Amber and Clay - Published by  Candlewick (March 9, 2021)

The Newbery Medal–winning author of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! gives readers a virtuoso performance in verse in this profoundly original epic pitched just right for fans of poetry, history, mythology, and fantasy.


Welcome to ancient Greece as only genius storyteller Laura Amy Schlitz can conjure it. In a warlike land of wind and sunlight, “ringed by a restless sea,” live Rhaskos and Melisto, spiritual twins with little in common beyond the violent and mysterious forces that dictate their lives. A Thracian slave in a Greek household, Rhaskos is as common as clay, a stable boy worth less than a donkey, much less a horse. Wrenched from his mother at a tender age, he nurtures in secret, aided by Socrates, his passions for art and philosophy. Melisto is a spoiled aristocrat, a girl as precious as amber but willful and wild. She’ll marry and be tamed—the curse of all highborn girls—but risk her life for a season first to serve Artemis, goddess of the hunt. 

Bound by destiny, Melisto and Rhaskos—Amber and Clay—never meet in the flesh. By the time they do, one of them is a ghost. But the thin line between life and death is just one boundary their unlikely friendship crosses. It takes an army of snarky gods and fearsome goddesses, slaves and masters, mothers and philosophers to help shape their story into a gorgeously distilled, symphonic tour de force. 

Blending verse, prose, and illustrated archaeological “artifacts,” this is a tale that vividly transcends time, an indelible reminder of the power of language to illuminate the over- and underworlds of human history.


Kate Alice Marshall -  Our Last Echoes - Viking Books for Young Readers (March 16, 2021)

In 1973, the thirty-one residents of Bitter Rock disappeared. In 2003, so did my mother. Now, I've come to Bitter Rock to find out what happened to her--and to me. Because Bitter Rock has many ghosts. And I might be one of them.

Sophia's earliest memory is of drowning. She remembers the darkness of the water and the briny taste as it filled her throat, the sensation of going under. She remembers hands pulling her back to safety, but that memory is impossible--she's never been to the ocean. 

But then Sophia gets a mysterious call about an island names Bitter Rock, and learns that she and her mother were there fifteen years ago--and her mother never returned. The hunt for answers lures her to Bitter Rock, but the more she uncovers, the clearer it is that her mother is just one in a chain of disappearances. 

People have been vanishing from Bitter Rock for decades, leaving only their ghostly echoes behind. Sophia is the only one who can break the cycle--or risk becoming nothing more than another echo haunting the island.

Veronica Mang - The Case of the Missing Cheeta (Secret Spy Society) - Viking Books for Young Readers (March 23, 2021) 
The first book in a highly illustrated new chapter book series about three delightfully mischievous young girls and some of the most enigmatic women in history who worked as spies.
 

It's a dark and stormy night when three sleuthing little girls get pulled into a web of mystery. They have mistakenly uncovered a secret society of some of the most famous female spies in history. A glamorous spy named Josephine Baker enlists the girls to find out who has kidnapped Chiquita, her precious pet cheetah. Do the girls have what it takes to become spies themselves? 

Debut author-illustrator Veronica Mang has created a playful pastiche full of masters of disguise, martial artists, codebreakers, and double agents in the first of this new illustrated chapter book series. Secret Spy Society: The Case of the Missing Cheetah introduces young readers to three delightfully mischievous girls and some of the most enigmatic and unforgettable women in history.


Jaclyn Moriarty - The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst - Published by Levine Querido (March 23, 2021) 
Esther is a middle child, in her own mind a pale reflection of siblings who are bright, shining stars. Her mother doesn't show the slightest bit of interest, no matter what Esther does. Still, she's content to go back to school, do her best, hang out with her friends, and let others take care of things.

But her best friends aren't AT school when she gets there. Why didn't they tell her they wouldn't be coming back? Why were they silent all summer? But stuff like that happens. And it's bad luck that her new teacher makes Esther the butt of all kinds of jokes. Mrs. Pollock is rumored to be an ogre—and maybe she IS one. Could be.

Then things go from unfortunate to outright dangerous. The mountains surrounding the school—usually sparkling with glaciers and lakes, alive with Faeries, and sheltering a quaint town with really great bakeries—are now crowded with Shadow Mages, casting a noticeable pall, and clearly—to Esther—signifying something very dark and threatening. As the people she might have depended on to help are either strangely absent or in hiding, it's left to ordinary, middle-child Esther ("just Esther") to act. But she'll have to burst out of the box of mediocrity she's been but in, and do something absolutely extraordinary.


Patrick D. Pidgeon -  Creeples! - Published by Greenleaf Book Group Press (March 9, 2021)
Let's just come right out and say it . . . stranger things do happen at Aberdasher Academy of Science
We re talking weird science, with fantastical consequences such as a slithering colossal Mongolian Death Worm, clashing medieval Bog People, an ambushing Ayia Napa sea monster, and a ravaging mythical beast, just to name a few!
Desperate to raise funds to save their favorite teacher's Genomic department from closing, Johnny ''Spigs'' Spignola, Theresa Ray ''T-Ray'' Rogers, and Pablo ''Peabo'' Torres team up to launch a crowdfunding lab experiment, but hastily use a mysterious DNA serum that astonishingly creates six pint-size, magical humanoids--the students affectionately call Creeples--who unleash mystical mayhem and campus chaos.
But even more shocking, a startling mystery emerges for these intrepid teens. Their noble but foolish actions uncover a shadowy insider's evil plan to gain demonic supremacy from the academy's hidden powers of ancient sorcery and the Creeples unwittingly stand in the way!

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Julian Sedgwick (Author), Chie Kutsuwada (Illustrator) - Tsunami Girl - Book Review (Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books)



Hello and welcome (こんにちは、ようこそ)  to Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books. This has been a very emotional and poignant book review.

A huge earthquake and Tsunami struck Japan at 2.46pm on March 11, 2011. It devastated towns and changed the landscape forever whilst also triggering nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima. The world watched helplessly as a triple disaster unfolded and the chaotic struggle to contain the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl took place. Ten years later and the story of Tsunami Girl by Julian Sedgwick is born. Published by Guppy Books in March 2021 the book will finally spread its wings and soar into the world. 

The book was inspired by the people, memories, and the author's visits to Odak, Minamisōm, Japan. The book is a three-year culmination of research and writing about the unseen crisis. It's a story to remember, savour and reflect upon. Just like petals falling from a Skura tree, this story showers the reader with a poignant and heartfelt story. It has both dark and light flowing throughout the narrative. 

The book is part story and part manga (a comic art form traditionally developed in Japan from scrolls dating back as far as the 12th century). The manga illustrations have been wonderfully created by Chie Kutsuwada and are used to weave in the imaginary element of the story alongside the written reality. They particularly introduce and follow the super-hero character in the imaginary world (Half Wave) who is bound by Yuki's own manga creation which is very much linked to the back story. The character is pulled together in a quirky quality that I associate with watching a Studio Ghibli film, both of which I really love. 

The narrative follows shy 15-year-old, Yuki Hara Jones, who finds herself caught up in the Earthquake and Tsunami whilst visiting her Grandpa. The story centers around both Yuki and her amazing Grandpa, who is an award-winning adult Manga artist. Back in England, she finds herself reliving the tragic events that unfolded on that unimaginable day. You'll find yourself walking a tightrope of emotions as you follow Yuki and the relationships between her English family in Cambridge (England) and her Japanese family as she attempts to heal herself by revisiting the disaster zone with the help of her friend Taka. 


This is the most thought-provoking story that I've read for a long time. It made me feel so emotional that it really swept me off my feet and stirred many thoughts. It was almost like looking over the edge of the cliff and free-falling into the foamy sea. The story is about place/time, pain, loss, friendship, and finally finding one's self again. It charts the struggles in the aftermath and how life was viewed differently as a result of such devastation. It's about not only the importance of memories but also after being in such a dark place trying to find the light and courage once more to make life a full experience and as rewarding as it can be. 

The way to best describe this book is as one massive Hanabi (花火) firework display as it sparkles, pops, and fizzes on the brain. A fluttering ghost story (Yami Shibai) delivers the yin and yang punching into the plot with a beating heart. The encounters and the feelings of the characters have been masterfully written. I view the story with sadness but also have fond memories from the special moments within. One day I hope to take a journey to Japan and, as a result of this book, will remember the people who lost their lives as well as those who were left behind to deal with the devastation. 

The story has been very well researched and written. It really is a very fitting tribute to one of the biggest natural disasters to happen in our lifetime. I'm sure that many people as they read this book will feel and view things differently but that's why I particularly love books like this. There is certainly no other book like this available to buy at the moment so I really would recommend that you read this. I would be particularly interested to know your thoughts on this amazingly well-published book. Thank you for reading and have a great day.

If you also fancy a doubled signed copy of the book. Here is the link to do so! https://www.kenilworthbooks.co.uk/tsunami-girl/




Monday, 1 March 2021

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

 

Hannah Foley - The Spellbinding Secret of Avery Buckle - Published by Floris Books (18 Mar. 2021) 

Part-girl, part-cat, Avery Buckle has always known she's a little different (after all, her tail is a bit of a giveaway). What Avery doesn't know is that she is the only one who can uncover a forgotten magical secret and bring back a great lost wizard. Teaming up with shape-shifting best friend Low, and with help from her witch guardians, Avery is plunged into a haphazard world of shadowy monsters, bewitched libraries and flying bicycles. Grab your enchanted tandem bike and hold on tight! Wildly inventive and packed with fantastical thrills, The Spellbinding Secret of Avery Buckle is a warm and quirky whirlwind of an adventure, full of magical heart.

Gemma Fowler - City of Rust - Published by Chicken House (4 Mar. 2021)

An out-of-this-world sci-fi adventure for a new generation!

Railey dreams of winning the drone races with her bio-robotic gecko friend, Atti. But when a bounty hunter crashes their biggest race yet, the pair are forced to flee to the feared Junker clans who mine the rubbish orbiting the Earth.

Rescued by a couple of Junker kids, they discover a danger bigger than anything they'd imagined - but can three kids, a gecko and an ancient computer save the world against the huge trash bomb (and its power-crazed creator) threatening to destroy the world?

The fun, original and thrilling middle-grade debut from Gemma Fowler.  


Rachel Delahaye (Author), George Ermos (Illustrator) - Mort the Meek and the Ravens' Revenge - Published by Stripes Publishing (4 Mar. 2021)

The first in a wickedly funny new series about an aspiring pacifist in a brutal kingdom!
On Brutalia violence is a way of life. Ravenous ravens circle overhead, monstrous grot bears cause chaos and the streets are bulging with brawls. But Mort isn’t like the other islanders – he’s determined to live peacefully. His struggle is made even tougher when the cruel queen appoints Mort as Royal Executioner. No one has challenged the royals and lived to tell the tale. Can Mort keep his head and outwit the queen? 

Perfect for fans of the HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON series, FROSTHEART and THE NOTHING TO SEE HERE HOTEL.


Laura Wood (Author), Ellie Snowdon (Illustrator) - The Animals of Madame Malone's Music Hall - Published by Barrington Stoke (4 Mar. 2021) 

Summer by the seaside with Gran isn't exactly what Callie expected. Instead of sunshine and ice cream, she's stuck helping Gran's drama group save their local theatre. Worst of all, they've asked her to star in their play. But when she goes exploring backstage, Callie stumbles into an altogether different world - another theatre, run by a wise fox and her troupe of talking animals. And the strangest part of all? Callie's set to play the lead in their show too. Forced to face her fears will Callie be up to the challenge of saving Madame Malone's Music Hall? A cast of creative creatures take centre stage in this theatrical Barrington Stoke debut from Blue Peter Book Award shortlisted author Laura Wood. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+

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...