Monday, 23 October 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) October 2017 - US Post Two

Karina Yan Glaser - The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street - Published by HMH Books for Young Readers (October 3, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0544876392

A modern classic in the making reminiscent of the Penderwicks series, The Vanderbeekersof 141st Street is about the connections we make and the unexpected turns life can take.

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It's practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home. 

Lisa McMann - Going Wild #2: Predator vs. Prey - Published by HarperCollins (October 3, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0062337177

The Avengers meets Animorphs in the second book of this epic series from Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of the Unwanteds and Unwanteds Quests. “Kids will go wild for Going Wild!” raved Newbery Medal–winning author Katherine Applegate.
The Going Wild series highlights the unbelievable (and completely true) abilities that animals possess, and it’s perfect for Marvel fans and middle grade readers who enjoy an exciting mix of action, humor, and heart. “Fans of Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull will not be disappointed,” proclaimed School Library Journal.
In Predator vs. Prey, Charlie Wilde’s dad has been abducted by masked figures who might not even be completely human. And it will take more than her incredible bracelet—which gives her powers from the animal kingdom—to rescue him.
Luckily, Charlie’s friends now have bracelets of their own with all-new abilities…they just have to work through a few issues first. Maria’s device has hair-raising side effects. Mac can’t wait to hack into his. And their frenemy, Kelly, swears hers is a dud. If Charlie is going to have any hope of saving her dad—and the world—from their beastly foes, she’ll have to help her friends master their powers and come together as a team.

Ridley Pearson - Lock and Key: The Downward Spiral - Published by HarperCollins; (October 10, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0062399045

Will leave you dying to know more.” —Rick Riordan, author of the #1 bestselling Percy Jackson series
The New York Times bestselling author of the Peter and the Starcatcher and Kingdom Keepers series, Ridley Pearson, brings us the second riveting tale in the Lock and Key trilogy.
This bravely reimagined origin story of the rivalry of literature’s most famous enemies—Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty—is told from the perspective of James’s observant little sister, Moira. 
At the thrilling conclusion to book one, we left off with James and Moira’s father dying horribly and unexpectedly. Now the search is on to find out what really happened to their father. Did he fall or was he pushed? Sherlock, James, and Moira reluctantly partner up, trusting no one, not even each other, as they uncover a secret sect, a rare jewel, and a sordid history. Blood is spilled, trusts broken, and friendships lost in this story of how one simple mistake cost Father his life and James his heart, and sent the Moriartys spiraling ever downward. 
It’s a highly original and satisfying take on the Sherlock Holmes series as only master of suspense Ridley Pearson could envision. As Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, says, “This tale will change the way you see Sherlock Holmes and leave you dying to know more.”

Zack Loran Clark & Nick Eliopulos - The Adventurers Guild - Published by  Disney-Hyperion (October 3, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1484788011

Few ever asked to join the Adventurers Guild. . . . Their members often died young.

In one of the last cities standing after the world fell to monsters, best friends Zed Kagari and Brock Dunderfel have high hopes for the future. Zed desperately wishes to join the ranks of the Mages Guild, where his status as Freestone's only half elf might finally be an asset. Brock, the roguishly handsome son of merchants, is confident he'll be welcomed into the ranks of the Merchants Guild.

But just as it seems the boys' dreams have come true, their lives take a startling turn . . . and they find themselves members of the perilous Adventurers Guild.

Led by the fearsome Alabasel Frond, the guild acts as the last line of defense against the Dangers-hungry, unnatural beasts from otherworldly planes. And when the boys uncover a conspiracy that threatens all of Freestone, Zed, Brock, and their new allies-Liza, a fierce noble, and Jett, a brave dwarf-must prove their worth once and for all.

This start of a thrilling new series is sure to be a hit with readers who like their fantasies clever and action-packed, with tons of humor and heart.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Nicholas Gannon - The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse (The Doldrums, Book 2)

Last year one of my favourite reads was "The Doldrums" - a brilliant visual debut by Nicholas Gannon. However, this book, in my opinion, has generally gone unnoticed by the reading public. Please read what I had to say about it by checking out my book review HERE 

A year later and the second book, The Helmsley Curse, will be published on the 16th November 2017 by HarperCollins Children's in the UK and the US. At first glance, it looks as visually stunning as The Doldrums. I'm really looking forward to reading a copy very soon. If you are interested then please take a look at the author's website The Doldrums Press.

I hope that you read both of these books - I really don't think you will be disappointed.  
Archer B. Hemsley and friends are back and yearning for adventure in this second beautifully told, stunningly-illustrated story from author-illustrator Nicholas Gannon.
After two years, Archer B. Helmsley’s famous explorer grandparents are finally coming home. They had been missing – abandoned on an iceberg – and Archer and his best friends, Adélaïde L. Belmont and Oliver Grub led an adventurous mission to rescue them.
Archer is overjoyed by his grandparents return. However, he seems to be the only one. Rumours begin to surface that Archer’s grandparents weren’t abandoned after all. People are claiming that they made it all up. Well, Archer knows those rumours are false, and with the help of his best friends and new neighbour, Kana, he is going to prove it. Off the foursome set, into a snowstorm and beyond, to restore his grandparent’s reputation.

The Helmsley Curse from The Doldrums Press on Vimeo.

The Doldrums Process from The Doldrums Press on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Helen Cooper - The Hippo at the End of the Hall - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Review (David Fickling)

The invitation was delivered by bees. It wasn't addressed to anyone at all, but Ben knew it was for him. It would lead him to an old, shambolic museum, full of strange and bewitching creatures. A peculiar world of hidden mysteries and curious family secrets . . . and some really dangerous magic. 

But most importantly Ben discovers a connection to his father and the family he never knew he had. And now he has something important to fight for - survival of the gee museum and the promise of finding out who he really is. 

Helen Cooper is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator whose picture books include Pumpkin Soup, The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed. Both of which won the CILIP Kate Greenaway award. Her debut novel, The Hippo at the End of the Hall, will be published by David Fickling Books on the 2nd November 2017 which is a fantastic accomplished debut and an absolute joy to read. It is a visual story that will you not forget. 

It was a real privilege to read an early chapter sample of this book back in June. I read the small extract and immediately thought I can not wait to read the finished book in its entirety. So when the copy arrived, I was very much excited to see it and get stuck into it straight away. (Thank you very much, David Fickling)

The first thing that I'm going to say is that it's another fantastic production by the team. A glorious red hardback lavished with love, care and detail with a fantastic story inside. You turn the book cover to be greeted with the fantastic black endpapers where you begin to feel the love for the story inside. 

As you start to read this magical plot, you will notice the really charming pencil sketches/drawings which bring the characters and the setting to life. They are a lovely touch and a fantastic way to start you on your big-footed adventure. There are 42 chapters filled with a sparkling and vivid imagination. It is a story that will stand the test of time - a great classic of the future and one of my book picks of the year. 

A visit to the Peabody Museum (Boston) is where the inspiration for the story started. One of the main characters and, my favourite pygmy hippopotamus, began as an initial sketch from here. Whilst many of the other characters were created from a range of other museums. The author collected these sketches and, with time, love and a bucketful of heart, made The GEE museum in this book a wonderous and enchanting place to visit. The story comes to life with a buzz of bees and a menagerie of stuffed creatures that might make you jump with excitement and anticipation. 

The story itself encompasses a re-telling of two old folk tales that intertwine to create the main story. They achieve this rather nicely by delivering mystery, myth, and wonder to the adventure. In my opinion, it enhances the story and creates an exciting wild adventure. 

The story is a real family read that will appeal to everybody. You will gravitate to the mayhem and mystery that follows the main character, Ben. It's a real heartfelt story that pulls on the reality strings of loss and loneliness whilst giving the reader a feel-good moment once the last pages have been turned. You will be sad as you come to the end of this wonderfully descriptive adventure. This is another fantastic book from the children's publisher of the year, in my opinion. 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) October 2017 - US Post

Kate Milford - Ghosts of Greenglass House - Published by Clarion Books (October 3, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0544991460

Welcome back to the irresistible world of Greenglass House where thirteen-year-old Milo is, once again, spending the winter holidays stuck in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem. There are fresh clues to uncover as friends old and new join in his search for a mysterious map and a famous smuggler’s lost haul.

This exciting sequel to a beloved book that was praised in a starred review as "an enchanting, empowering read" is sure to thrill both fans and newcomers. Like its predecessor, it's a smart, suspenseful tale that offers ghosts, friendships, and a cast of unforgettable characters, all wrapped up in a cozy mystery.

Kate Milford is the New York Times bestselling author of the Edgar Award-winning, National Book Award nominee Greenglass House, as well as Ghosts of Greenglass House, The Boneshaker, The Broken Lands, and The Left-Handed Fate. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her online at and on Twitter @KateMilford.

Lindsay Currie - The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street - Published by Aladdin (October 10, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1481477048

A girl unravels a centuries-old mystery after moving into a haunted house in this deliciously suspenseful mystery. Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones.

When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes that someone—or something—is trying to communicate with her. And it involves a secret that’s been shrouded in mystery for more than one hundred years. With the help of three new friends, Tessa begins unraveling the mystery of what happened in the house on Shady Street—and more importantly, what it has to do with her!

Armand Baltazar - Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (October 10, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0062402363

For fans of Rick Riordan and Brian Selznick, author-artist Armand Baltazar introduces Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic, the first in a new science fiction/fantasy series that explores a world painted new by the Time Collision. Integrating art and text, this epic and cinematic adventure features more than 150 full-color illustrations.

You’ve never seen Earth like this before: continents reshaped, oceans re-formed, cities rebuilt, and mountains sculpted anew. Dinosaurs roam the plains alongside herds of buffalo, and giant robots navigate the same waters as steam-powered ships.  
This is the world Diego Ribera was born into. The past, present, and future coexisting together. In New Chicago, Diego’s middle school hallways buzz with kids from all eras of history and from cultures all over the world. The pieces do not always fit together neatly, but this is the world he loves.
There are those, however, who do not share his affection. On his thirteenth birthday, Diego learns of a special gift he has within, a secret that is part of something much bigger—something he cannot understand. When his father, New Chicago’s top engineer, is taken by the Aeternum, Diego must rescue him and prevent this evil group from disrupting the fragile peace humanity has forged.

Peter Lerangis - Max Tilt: Fire the Depths - Published - HarperCollins -(October 3, 2017) -  ISBN-13: 978-0062441003 "

The New York Times bestselling author of the Seven Wonders series and books in the 39 Clues series, Peter Lerangis, brings us the enthralling first installment of the Max Tilt trilogy.


When thirteen-year-old Max Tilt happens upon his great-great-great-grandfather Jules Verne's unfinished, unpublished manuscript, The Lost Treasures, he doesn't realize that he's found the answers to all his problems. And Max has a lot of problems — his mother is sick, his father is out of work, and his home is about to be foreclosed on.  But when Max and his cousin Alex discover that Verne's last work reveals everything he wrote was fact, not fiction, they realize that the book holds the key to something incredibly valuable. A treasure that can save his house — and maybe his entire family.

But Max and Alex aren't the only ones who know about Verne's clues. Spencer Niemand, a strange skunk-haired man who has spent his life researching Verne's works, is bent on reshaping the world with the hidden treasure. To find it first, Max and Alex must go on an adventure that'll take them from the broken remains of an underwater city to the very jaws of a giant squid to the edges of a whirlpool from which no one has ever emerged alive.  

This is the first book in a new hair-raising, edge-of-your-seat adventure series from master storyteller and New York Times bestselling author Peter Lerangis

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Guest Post - Sarah Baker - Eloise Undercover - UK Blog (5) Tour - MORSE CODE (Catnip)


France, 1944. 12-year-old Eloise’s father has not come home in over a week, and she is getting worried that something might be badly wrong. When the Germans occupy Eloise’s town, and the Nazi Kommandant moves into Maison de la Noyer, things start falling apart. Through a chance meeting, Eloise volunteers to join the Resistance. Suspense, secrecy and danger follow her as, inspired by her favourite detective fiction books, she tries to find her father. A hidden passage behind a tapestry, a deportation list and a race against time... Will Eloise find her father? And what other secrets will she reveal?
Published by Catnip Paperback, £6.99, 9 + year olds, ISBN: 9781910611135- OUT NOW.

--- .-. ... . / -.-. --- -.. . 

Do you know that this says? 

It says Morse Code! 

(Pinterest photo credit) 

Morse Code is a series of dots and dashes used to send individual letters of the alphabet. If you use it over a short wave radio the long and short tones are referred to as dits and dahs. You could also use a torch!

(link to photo credit): 

Morse code was used during WW2 because it was the simplest, most recognizable and understandable signal to send. Online encoding didn’t exist yet, so the safest way of making sure your message was secure was to encrypt it yourself, then send it. Someone at the other end would write down your message, feed it through the same manual decoding system in reverse and… voila! 

Could you be a covert code breaker? 

Here’s an example of a substitution cipher. Each letter of the alphabet has been substituted with a code letter. 

HINT: Sometimes it helps to work on the short words first (notice how NBY is repeated several times!) 

Here’s a question for you written in code. Can you crack it? 

Here’s the alphabet to help you. 

Got it? If so, congrats, you’re on your way to becoming a spy! If not, here’s the key: 



You can use random orders and patterns, but in this case the alphabet has simply shifted 6 places to the right. 


Sputnik 1 

If this was far too easy, try a harder cipher HERE or you can find out how much more you need to learn about being a spy by booking one of my school workshops HERE 

Big thanks to for the Code Breaker resources.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Sarah Baker is a children’s writer based in London. Her previous book, Through the Mirror Door, has been very well received by bloggers, bookshops, and readers. Sarah has worked extensively in film, with roles at Aardman Features, the Bermuda Film Festival and as Story Editor at Celador Films. She writes guest features for a number of online magazines and blogs, including the popular #vintage baker finds pieces for Bristol Vintage. ELOISE UNDERCOVER is Sarah’s second novel.

Find out more at<>  and follow Sarah on Instagram and twitter @bysarahbaker

Monday, 9 October 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) October 2017 - UK Post TWO

Tom Fletcher (Author) Shane Dervries (Illustrator) The Creakers - Published by Puffin (5 Oct. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0141388762

The darkly magical new story about the monsters under the bed, from bestselling author of The Christmasaurus, Tom Fletcher.
What silently waits in the shadows at night? What's under your bed, keeping just out of sight?
Do you ever hear strange, creaking noises at night? Ever wonder what makes those noises?
Lucy Dungston always did.
Until, one morning, Lucy discovers that all the grown-ups have disappeared - as if into thin air. Chaos descends as the children in Lucy's town run riot. It's mayhem. It's madness. To most kids, it's amazing!
But Lucy wants to find out the truth. Lucy lost her dad not long ago, and she's determined not to lose her mum too. She's going to get her back - and nothing is going to stop her . . .
. . . except maybe the Creakers.

Lauren St John  (Author) Catherine Hyde (Illustrator) - The Snow Angel - Published by Zephyr (5 Oct. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1786695895

Lauren St John's stunning Christmas classic is about forgotten children, the power of nature to heal us and a girl who will climb mountains in search for a place to call home. 
Growing up in vibrant, crowded Nairobi, Makena has only one dream: to climb Mount Kenya like her hero, her mountain guide father. But when her beautiful world is shattered, she finds that in the city's dark places there are a thousand ways to fall, each more deadly than any crevasse. In a world of strangers, does she dare trust Snow, whose ballet dreams are haunted by a past she's still running from? And is the sparkling fox friend or foe? 
After a fresh start in the Scottish Highlands turns bad, Makena flees to the mountains. But will they betray her or be the making of her?

Kaye Umansky (Author) Ashley King (Illustrator) Witch for a Week - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK (5 Oct. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1471160905

When Elsie Pickles offers to house-sit the mysterious home of local witch Magenta Sharp, she has no idea what she's getting herself into. Left with a talking raven and a scruffy dog for company, a magical tower that has a mind of its own and a book of instruction called Everything You Need to Know, what could possibly go wrong?

With an assortment of weird and wonderful neighbours banging at the door and a box of volatile magical ingredients that must be used immediately, Elsie finds out that looking after Magenta's home might not be as easy as she first thought ... does she have what it takes to be a witch for a week or will it all end in a magical disaster? 

A new magical adventure from Kaye Umansky, the bestselling author of the spellbinding children's classic Pongwiffy, brought to life with charming illustrations from rising star Ashley King!

Lisa Lueddecke - A Shiver of Snow and Sky - Published by Scholastic (5 Oct. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1407174037

On the frozen island of Skane, the sky speaks. Beautiful lights appear on clear nights, and their colours have meaning: Green means all is well, and the Goddess is happy. Blue means a snow storm is on the way. And then there's red. Red is rare. A warning. Seventeen years ago the sky turned red just as Osa was born, unleashing a plague that claimed the lives of hundreds of villagers, including her own mother. This time, when the night sky once again bleeds crimson, she must discover what it means before so many lives are lost again.

Danny Weston - Scarecrow - Published by Andersen Press (5 Oct. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1783445318

 Jack and his dad are runaways. Jack’s father recently turned whistleblower, revealing the truth about the illicit dealings of some powerful people. Realising that he and Jack might be in danger, Dad drives them to a remote shooting lodge in the Scottish Highlands, where they intend to lay low

In the cornfield beside the lodge stands a scarecrow. When Jack witnesses something incredible, he begins to realise that it is no ordinary scarecrow – it is alive, hungry and fuelled by rage. And when Dad’s enemies begin to converge on the lodge, the scarecrow might just turn out to be Jack’s best hope of survival.

Jessica Townsend - Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow - Published by Orion Children's Books (12 Oct. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1510104112 - (Book Review Here)

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day of the year, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks - and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. 
But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away to the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.
It's then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter wants her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organisation: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart - an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests - otherwise she'll have to leave and confront her deadly fate once and for all.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Saviour Pirotta - ANCIENT GREEK MYSTERIES (Q&A) Interview With Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Welcome Saviour to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. Thank you for taking the time out to answer some questions about the Ancient Greek Mysteries. The series sounds like a fun and action-packed read that all readers will learn from and enjoy. Here is the first question. 
  • For potential readers from this blog, how would you summarise and sell the first book to encourage them to read it? 
MARK OF THE CYCLOPS is a thrilling adventure mystery set in 433BC. Nico is a scribe and his best friend Thrax is a slave who dreams of buying his freedom so he can set off to find his mother. When the two attend a wedding in the city of Corinth, someone smashes one of the precious wedding gifts. A vase. The master of the house blames Gaia, one of the slaves. She insists that a cyclops climbed in through the window and broke the vase. No one believes her but Thrax and Nico set out to find the truth. 

Their investigations pit them against a gang of ruthless criminals who would stop at nothing to conceal the truth. What is the gang up to? Why is it smashing vases all over Corinth, vases that are marked with the face of a cyclops? Will Thrax and Nico find out or will they end up buried alive in one of Corinth’s long-abandoned graveyards?

Book 1, MARK OF THE CYCLOPS was published by Bloomsbury on the 9th March 2017.

  •  Tell us more about the encounter you had with a real-life detective twenty-five years ago on the Island of Poros in Greece? How did this shape the book? 
Poros is a small island about ninety minutes away by boat from Athens. It’s the perfect place to plan books and write. The last time I visited, it was out of season. Most of the other travellers on board were Greek. There was only one English guy. He was very tall, with a tattoo of a snake on one side of his shaved head. I nicknamed him Snake, after the main character played by Kurt Russell in Escape from New York. 

We struck up a conversation. It turned out Snake was a detective. He wouldn’t tell me what he was investigating and I couldn’t for the life of me think what a detective would be doing on Poros. It’s a tiny island with only a small town and a handful of shops and cafes. 

During my week there I spotted Snake several times, once on the beach and at least three times guzzling stew in a café. He seemed to be on holiday rather than working. But one morning, I saw him boarding the boat back to Athens. There were two Greek policemen with him, who shook his hand warmly and thumped him on the shoulder before he left. It was obviously a case of mission accomplished. I asked locals if they knew anything about Snake but no one even seemed to be aware there’d been a detective on the island. Or if they did, they were keeping mum about it. The next day I visited the famous temple of Poseidon on Poros. I was researching a non-fiction book about temples in ancient Greece but somehow I couldn’t stop thinking about Snake and the policemen seeing him off on the ferry. Snake became Thrax in my imagination and the Ancient Greek Mysteries were born.

  • How are the books being used in schools to support the KS2 curriculum? 
A lot of schools doing Ancient Greece in KS2 are adopting the Ancient Greek Myths as their class read. The stories can be read for pleasure but they also give you tons of facts about how the ancient Greeks lived, not just what they are and wore but also what they felt about major issues like slavery, poverty, freedom of expression, the role of women in society etc.

 I quote from a teacher’s review on Amazon: "Expertly written historical fiction - an engaging narrative with historical accuracy and carefully woven facts. Perfect to support the study of Ancient Greece and perfect for children who enjoy a good read. My son is now hooked, desperately awaiting the next book in the series!" 

From a teaching point of view, books like this are worth their weight in gold, especially with the Primary Curriculum having so many historical drivers and topics and, sadly, very little historical fiction available. 

Bloomsbury have produced teaching notes to go with Mark of the Cyclops which teachers can download HERE!

I also do writing workshops in schools helping children to write their own mystery stories set in the past.

  • How have you used research to incorporate facts and information about life in ancient Greece?
One of the reasons I wrote the Ancient Greek Mysteries is because I feel there are a lot of fantasy books based on Greek mythology but not much about what life really was like in Ancient Greece.

I’m obsessed with facts, especially everyday details from ancient history. I’ve always been curious about how people lived in the past, what clothes they wore, what food they ate, what games they played. My aunt used to get me a magazine called Look and Learn which fed my obsession. It had wonderful articles and illustrations. I was always in awe at how the authors could spin an actual incident in history into an exciting story.

The Ancient Greek Mysteries use the same technique. They’re mystery adventure stories but they’re peppered with what I hope is interesting information about Classical Greece. I have a huge non-fiction library which I built up over the years and I mostly use that for research. I have whole books about ancient Greek coins, weapons and food. I actually cooked the food Thrax and Nico eat, to make sure I described it right.

Book 2, SECRET OF THE ORACLE publishes on 5th October.
  • How was the collaboration established between you and Freya (illustrator)?
I have no say on who gets to illustrate any of my books. Which is probably a good thing or they’ll all look like the Pauline Bayliss editions of the Narnia books. 

Bloomsbury chose Frey who’d just illustrated The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart. It was the right choice. Freya had really made my version of Ancient Greece come alive. The characters are so close to what I imagined them to be, it’s uncanny. She first drews roughs which Hannah Rolls, my brilliant editor at Bloomsbury, emailed me to make sure we got right. There were little details that had to be tweaked, like the shapes of tombstones, the patterns on vases and styles of haircuts but I was amazed at how accurate her portrayals where. I printed out the final edits when they arrived and hung them up in my office for inspiration. Freya is hard at work on the illustrations for Book 3 at the moment. It’s called Pirates of Poseidon and I’m dying to see what they look like. 

  • What is the best question that you've been asked by a child? 
I’ve been asked all sorts of questions over the years. They vary from the sublime, to the incisive, to the downright funny. The most bewildering one came from a Year 2 boy in South Shields a few years ago. Do you have a toilet in your house? I thought that was a pretty odd question, until I discovered that the boy’s grandfather still used an outside toilet in the backyard. Perhaps to the boy I looked as old as his grandpa.

I get asked one question over and over again, and it’s my favourite. How do you become an author? The answer is simple. Write every day. Work on your writing to make it better. Read other people’s work; it will inspire you and give you ideas. And never give up your dream. I had to leave my country of origin to achieve mine. I slept rough in London, lived in freezing squats, cried when I got rejection slips, but it never occurred to me to give up.

  • Are you able to give us a sneak preview of one of the illustrations from book 2 prior to its release in October?
Here’s an early rough that Freya did for Secret of the Oracle. The two boys are Thrax and Nico, the main stars of the Ancient Greek Mysteries. The woman is a diviner called Mother Kessandra. She can interpret dreams and tell the future. She receives her clients in a mysterious cave high above the famous oracle in Delphi. It’s a real cave, which is still there to this very day. It cost money to consult the famous oracle so the very poor used to make do with visiting people like Mother Kessandra. 

I think even in this early sketch, Freya managed to capture the eerie atmosphere of the cave. I love the contrast between the light from the fire and the shadows in the background.
  • Who would you choose as your four guests for a literary dinner party? 

I had to give that question a lot of thought. I am completely obsessed by the creative process and there are a lot of writers whose brains I would love to pick. In the end I settled on these four. Sadly they’re all dead, so my fantasy literary dinner party will never be anything but a dream. 

Guest of honour would be C.S. Lewis, because he wrote the Narnia books. They blew my mind when I first read them. His house was packed to the rafters with books. A bit like mine, really, so we’d have a lot to talk about.

My second choice would be R.L. Stevenson. I think Treasure Island is the best pirate story ever written and I’d love to find out how he created the character of Long John Silver.

I’d also invite Tove Jannson, creator of the Moomins. Her books are not only entertaining but also deal with some very serious issues, like mental health and artistic freedom.

Last of all I would invite Roald Dahl. He’d probably be vile to the other guests and that would make for a lively evening. Hold on, he’d probably be horrible to me too…

Book 3, PIRATES OF POSEIDON publishes March 2018.

Book 4, REVENGE OF THE CENTAURS publishes October 2018

Check out Saviour Pirotta Website for more details:

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) October 2017 - UK Post

Alex Bell (Author), Tomislav Tomic (Illustrator)The Polar Bear Explorers' Club - Published by Faber & Faber (2 Nov. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0571332540

It sounded like a respectable and worthy enough death for an explorer - tumbling from an ice bridge to be impaled upon a mammoth tusk - but Stella really, really didn't want that to happen, just the same.
Join Stella Starflake Pearl and her three fellow explorers as they trek across the snowy Icelands and come face-to-face with frost fairies, snow queens, outlaw hideouts, unicorns, pygmy dinosaurs and carnivorous cabbages . . . 
When Stella and three other junior explorers get separated from their expedition can they cross the frozen wilderness and live to tell the tale?

Andrew Beasley - Carnival of Monsters (S.C.R.E.A.M #2) - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (1 Oct. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1474906937

Roll up, roll up if you dare to Doctor Vindicta's carnival! Gasp at the dancing ghosts! Grimace at the creepy clowns! Giggle in the hall of mirrors!

It's all harmless fun and frights... until a young boy disappears. The police believe he's run away, but his sister swears he was snatched by a monster.

Only the cleverest detectives can catch a demon: send for Billy Flint and Charley Steel aka S.C.R.E.A.M. - top-secret investigators of Supernatural Crimes, Rescues, Emergencies And Mysteries.

Kate Saunders - The Land of Neverendings - Published by  Faber & Faber (5 Oct. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0571310845

The cat flap opened. Emily thought a wild animal was coming into the house. But the muddy creature that climbed through had four little wheels and a tail. It spoke in a voice like rough sandpaper. 
'Come on, you two - it's nice and warm in here.'

What if there exists a world powered by imagination?
A world of silliness, where humans and their toys live on long after they've left the Hard World . . . and what if the door between that world and this one was broken?
Welcome to the Land of Neverendings.
Moving, raw and funny in all the right ways, The Land of Neverendings is a rip-roaring adventure, but it also gives an honest portrayal of grief for young readers, and shows us that whilst sadness does exist in the world, it doesn't have to cancel out happiness, or silliness, even when you lose someone you love.

Andy Mulligan - Dog - Published by Pushkin Children's Books (26 Oct. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1782691716


When Tom gets a puppy called Spider, it changes both their lives. Tom finally has a special friend all of his own - which is just what he needs as he struggles with a difficult new school and trouble at home. And Spider has someone to love him. But the course of their love does not run entirely smoothly, as they embark on a gruelling journey of separation and reunion.

Dog is a book about trust, standing up for yourself, and learning to love. By the award-winning Andy Mulligan, author of the bestselling Trash, it is a story that will delight readers young and old.

Chris Priestley - Curse of the Werewolf Boy (Maudlin Towers) - Published by Bloomsbury Childrens (5 Oct. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1408873083 - Book Review Here

'We shall be detectives, Sponge!' exclaimed Mildew. 'We shall solve the Mystery of the School Spoon!'
Mildew and Sponge don't think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom-laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, our heroes must spring into action and solve the crime!
But what starts out as a classic bit of detectivating quickly becomes weirder than they could have imagined. Who is the ghost in the attic? What's their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf?
Hugely funny, deliciously creepy and action-packed by turns, this brand new series from Chris Priestley is perfect for 8+ readers who like their mysteries with a bit of bite. Fans of Lemony Snicket and Chris Riddell will love Curse of the Werewolf Boy.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Jessica Townsend - Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books Review

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks - and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor. It's then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organisation: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart - an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests - or she'll have to leave the city and confront her deadly fate once and for all.

One of this years most hotly tipped and anticipated children's books, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow will be zipped on the brolly line and into publication on the 12th October 2017. Published in the UK by Orion Children's Books and later in the US by Little, Brown Book Group on the 31st October 2017. Written by Austrailian author, Jessica Towsend, this story has been ten years in the making. Finally, this book is ready to fledge and fly into the hands of eager readers and dragon riders alike. 

Jessica started to write this ever-changing book in the year that she left High School. Subsequently, she moved to London and found that the story grew into this fantastical adventure. It will spirit you away on a magical journey that is both for the young and old. As soon as you turn the first page, you'll find yourself plunged into an intriguing and extraordinary world that is . . . . .  Nevermoor. 

The narrative starts with a sombre feel as we are introduced to the main character, Morrigan. Eventide would march on like a drum beat, unstoppable. Morrigan Crow would have no future as she would die on her eleventh birthday; this story will have no happy ending. Tears will flow like little seeds of imagination in this story as you are whisked away on a mechanical spider on an unforgettable adventure like no other. 

This book has all the magical ingredients required to leave you with wonderful memories. You will soak up the atmosphere by being accompanied by a host of quaint, odd and rather endearing characters through a chorus of screechy violins and spooky organ music. Nevermind being transported to a world of infinite pleasure, chased by the deadly Hunt of Smoke and Shadow which will lift the stakes of this bold and brilliant adventure and add a little creepiness that will deliver a shaky hand to Hallowmas night. 

It's such a thrilling read that you will not want to put this book down. Equally, you will not want it to ever end. You will turn every page absorbing the humour and snarky remarks that deliver an icy punch. It's wildly imaginative and full of creativity and personality; a visit to Hotel Deucalion Smoking Parlour must not be missed. I recommend a pinch of excitement, a splash of courage and a little hint of lavender smoke to get you into the mood of the trials and madness that Morrigan Crow will face with her friends.

Stories like this can take time to shape like shimmering shadows that lurk beyond the peripheral vision. They often have other adventures that manifest before the main plot incubates and becomes the actual story that we read. The author's many ideas, feelings, and inspirations, whilst possibly writing in her pyjamas, have shaped this book into a  magical storytelling spectacle. There is so much more that I could mention about this fantastical book, but I won't. Read it for yourself and enter the wondrous world of Morrigan Crow and Nevermoor. This is one of the best books of 2017.