Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Sophie Green - Potkin and Stubbs - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Lil Potkin lives in bleak Peligan City. Her mum works in City Hall and is rarely at home, so aspiring journalist Lil has all the time she needs to explore the city in her bright yellow raincoat, investigating unsolved stories.

One rainy evening Lil meets a sad-looking boy sitting by himself in the bus station and buys him a hot chocolate. That night Lil wakes to find him in her bedroom. He doesn't want to admit to being a ghost, but when he finally remembers his name (Nedly ... possibly) he explains that he needs Lil's help to find out what happened to him after he disappeared from his orphanage a year ago.

So Lil and Nedly - aka Potkin and Stubbs - team up to solve their mystery, and they call in the reluctant help of once-famous detective Abe Mandrel. He agrees to help them with the Stubbs case if they help him find the criminal who escaped justice and cost him his career.

Except - Mandrel thinks it's only Lil he's working with. And Lil realises she is the only person in the whole of Peligan City who can see Nedly. Which can come in handy when trying to solve crime...

As we dip our fantasy toes into 2019, there are some fantastic new reads to whet our appetite. Looking into the immediate future, there is an eye-catching new book by Sophie Green called Potkin and Stubbs. This book first grabbed my attention when it was featured in my little book cover wars 2018 competition. It has to be one of my favourites and looks amazing in the flesh; a bundle of green and golden joy. The superb illustrations are from the talented Karl James Mountford which are delightfully in keeping with the story and add some timely atmospheric detail.  Unfortunately for you, dear reader, you will have to wait until the beginning of March 2019 to get your eager mitts on a copy. However, good things come to people who wait and this book is not just good ... it's BRILLIANT. So put it on your pre-order list. 

Sophie Green's favourite film is Ghost Busters. Bearing this in mind, it is clear that some of the influence has rubbed off and can be seen within this story. The plot is filled with some fantastically spooky shenanigans as you venture through, if you dare, as it will both scare and delight you. The book instantly plunges the reader into an atmospheric dark journey that will capture the imagination and pull the threads of the fantasy soul. It will leave you fully engrossed and turning the pages like a demon possessed. 

The detective story starts with the introduction of the fantastic protagonist, twelve-year-old, Lil Potkin. Looking for a story and ready for action, she is armed with a small rucksack, notepad and a nest of chewed pencils. Something soon captures her attention through a missing toy advert and a mystery sad looking boy. She decides to investigate, but what could possibly go wrong?

Catapulted into a dark world of corruption and deceit, the storyline makes an amazing read. The author has come up with some cracking ideas blending it with a creative and unusual concept. It has all the ingredients I love: drama, tension, mystery and a very disturbing eerie quality like walking into a spider's web and breaking the macabre tension with a fantasy knife. 

It's a fantastic story. Although slightly sad, it is layered with mystery and an unlikely investigation trio of Potkin, Stubbs, and Mandrel (who is my favourite character) the walking Swiss army knife. The book is littered with humour, heart and some fantastic plot moments that everyone will absolutely love. I read this book so quickly; I could not put it down. 

The setting feels monochrome and atmospheric which encapsulates the story giving it a timeless, vintage quality and a slightly unique feel. It will easily hook you in and then sucker punch you at the end. Excitingly, this might be the beautiful start to an amazing new series. If so, it will certainly be at the top of my list for 2019. 

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Benjamin Read & Laura Trinder - The Midnight Hour - Book Review (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books)

They must have come from under beds, out of mirrors, up from caves, and down from attics; all out of the darkness and into the moonlight. They were the Night Folk, and this was their world.
Emily's parents have vanished into the secret world of the Midnight Hour – a Victorian London frozen in time, home to magic and monsters. Emily must find them in the city of the Night Folk, armed only with a packed lunch, a stowaway hedgehog, and her infamously big mouth.
With bloodthirsty creatures on her tail, Emily has to discover the truth to rescue her parents. What family secret connects her to the Midnight Hour? And can she save both worlds before she runs out of sandwiches?

The world of fantasy is floating high in the sky of London with this debut novel which has been written by two ex-book sellers Benjamin Read & Laura Trinder. The Midnight Hour will strike into publication on the 7th February 2019. Published by Chicken House and developed in association with Altitude Films this book has very exciting prospects. 

You'll love the fantastic book cover illustration by Hannah Peck capturing the story inside and shimmering particularly well in the light. However, dear reader, what can you expect from this little marvel? Well, when the clock strikes twelve a fantastically written heroine called Emily will come out to play. She will make you smile from ear to ear as she marches into a world of danger and intrigue with Hoggins the hedgehog and her runaway mouth. Together, they prickle with pluckiness and courage, as they face perilous danger from some very nasty characters. If you are expecting a midnight delivery over the next few weeks, then lock your DOOR and hide behind the sofa. 

You'll be whisked on a magical bike ride into a fantasy full of mystery and postal madness, from the Daylight realm into the magical world of the Night Folk. What will you see? Take a peek through the letterbox and you will be entertained and thrilled from the very start. It sparkles and dazzles with a quirky narrative that is layered with magical spookiness and a large bit of kookiness. All it takes is a lick of a postage stamp to let your imagination run wild; it's all set in a breathtaking and wildly immersive Pratchett-like world that feels very much like home. 

The clock ticks as the action unfolds in a dramatic way that will keep the reader on their big POOKA toes. Overall, it is slightly bonkers, very clever and a fantastic book to read. It enables the reader to escape whilst riding the coattails of danger and adventure. Watch out for the creative use of naming the characters, which I found very amusing. This is a performance that surpasses all expectations by a very talented duo who have learned a thing or two from selling and reading books. Keep a watch out for the film - it should be good! 

Anyone fancy a sandwich?


Monday, 7 January 2019

New Children's & Young Adult Book Picks January 2019 - Post One - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Lucy Strange - Our Castle by the Sea - Published by Chicken House (3 Jan. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1911077831 - Paperback - Read Full Extract HERE
England is at war. Growing up in a lighthouse, Pet's world has been one of storms, secret tunnels and stories about sea monsters. But now the clifftops are a terrifying battleground, and her family is torn apart. This is the story of a girl who is small, afraid and unnoticed. A girl who freezes with fear at the enemy planes ripping through the skies overhead. A girl who is somehow destined to become part of the strange, ancient legend of the Daughters of Stone ...
Ross Welford - The Dog Who Saved the World - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (10 Jan. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-0008256975 - Paperback
The astounding new novel from the bestselling and Costa-shortlisted author of Time Travelling with a Hamster, this is a story for everyone of ten and older who loves adventure, laughs and tears.
When eleven-year-old Georgie befriends an eccentric retired scientist, she becomes the test subject for a thrilling new experiment: a virtual-reality 3D version of the future.
But then a deadly disease threatens the life of every dog in the country and Georgie’s beloved dog, Mr Mash, gets sick. And that’s only the start of her troubles.
Soon, Georgie and Mr Mash must embark on a desperate quest: to save every dog on earth, and maybe even all of humanity …
… without actually leaving the room.
An extraordinary quest with the biggest stakes of all, and a huge idea at its heart, this is time travel – but not as you know it.

Alex Gardiner - Mossbelly MacFearsome and the Dwarves of Doom - Published by Andersen Press (3 Jan. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1783447916 - Paperback

Roger is just an ordinary boy, in an ordinary world – or so he thinks, until a grumpy dwarf warrior, Mossbelly MacFearsome, appears out of thin air and saves him from the school bully. If that isn’t incredible enough, now Moss has decided that Roger is the perfect human companion for his daring quest to defeat the dwarves’ arch-enemy Leatherhead Barnstorm and his horrifying horde of monstrous (but very polite) gorefiends. If Roger doesn’t help Moss, the world as we know it will be destroyed by ogres and dragons and the race of humans will be annihilated. If he does help, he will be late for his tea and his mum will be going mad with worry. A Highland castle, a trainee witch who knows karate, and an ancient spell to be broken – by King Golmar’s braces, just what has Roger got himself into?

A hilarious action-packed fish-out-of-water adventure, perfect for young fans of Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Cressida Cowell.

Melissa Savage - The Truth About Martians - Published by Chicken House (3 Jan. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1911490821 - Paperback - Read Full Extract HERE 

Mylo never really believed in Martians, unless they had a starring role in one of his comic books. But then a flying saucer crash-lands next to his Roswell, New Mexico, ranch, and he starts to hear voices--like someone is asking for his help. 
With his best friend Dibs and crush Gracie by his side, and his Cracker Jack superhero membership card, a slingshot, and a small American flag--for peace--in tow, Mylo sets out on an epic adventure to investigate the crash and find the Martians. But he and his friends end up discovering more about the universe than they ever could have imagined.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Favourite Kids Books 2018

Here we are at the end of another year, so it's a great time to reflect on my favourite books of 2018. As always, I have not read as many books as I would have liked. Trying to find the time to read is always a daily challenge for me.

This year I've found it particularly difficult to come up with a definitive top ten list as so many brilliant books have been published this year. There's been another fantastic growth in children's books, but it is still difficult for these to get the media coverage they deserve. I hope that during 2019 people will sit up and become more active in promoting these amazing and special books.  

On reflection, the books I have selected are a particularly varied list of books this year. However, I would wholeheartedly recommend each and every one. They are all enjoyable and have stayed with me on a personal level throughout the year. It would be really interesting to hear your views and thoughts on this list? 

Also, please check my end of year award LIST.

I am delighted to unveil the following list:

  *Andrew Norriss - Mike - David Fickling Books (4 Jan. 2018) - Book Cover Illustration by Dave Shelton

*Paul Magrs - The Heart of Mars - Published by Firefly Press (15 Mar. 2018) - Book Cover Illustration by TBC

*Sophie Anderson - The House with Chicken Legs - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (3 May 2018) - Book Cover Illustration by Melissa Castrillón

*Mal Peet - Mr Godley's Phantom -  Published by David Fickling Books (2 Aug. 
2018) - Book Cover Illustration by Ian Beck

*Nick Cook - Fractured Light - Published by Voice from the Clouds (20 Aug. 2018) - Book Cover Illustration by Ryan Schwarz

* S. A Patrick - A Darkness of Dragons (Songs of Magic) - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (6 Sept. 2018) - Book Cover Illustration by George Ermoyenous  

*Ross Mackenzie - The Elsewhere Emporium  - Published by Kelpies (13 Sept. 2018) - Book Illustration Cover by TBC

*Linda Newbery - The Key to Flambards - Published by David Fickling Books (4 Oct. 2018) - Book Cover Illustration by Katie Harnett   

*Liz Flanagan - Dragon Daughter - Published by David Fickling Books (4 Oct. 2018) - Book Cover Illustration by Angelo Rinaldi

*P. G Bell - The Train to Impossible Places - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (4 Oct. 2018) - Book Cover Illustration by Flavia Sorrentino  

Friday, 21 December 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - End of the Year Awards 2018 - A Year In Children's Books

It's time to reflect on another blogging/reading year as we draw closer towards 2019. Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books would like to thank all of the publishers, authors, illustrators and anyone one else who has kindly sent books for me to read this year. Every book is much appreciated and isn't taken for granted.  I will be posting my favourite reads of 2018 in the next post or so.  

I would like to present the following awards to:

* David Fickling Books as 'Children's Publisher of the Year 2018'. I have loved every book that I have read this year. Yet again, the care and detail that has gone into each book have been remarkable; every book has thoroughly deserved the space on the bookshelf. I am looking forward to next year and new delights to read. 

* 'Small Publisher' of the year goes to Floris Books (Scotland) and Firefly Press (Wales). Both of which are fantastic publishers. They have a great eye for engaging stories all of which I have enjoyed and loved immensely.  

* Chris Riddell and Marcus Alexander for their roles in promoting and encouraging children to read for pleasure and for inspiring others. 

* Favourite illustrator of the year is Karl James Mountford for outstanding work this year and for letting me use his illustration for my blog header, it looks AMAZING!

*Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Wars Winner 2018/19 was Vashti Hardy - 'Brightstorm: A Sky-Ship Adventure' - Book Cover illustrated by George Ermos - Published by Scholastic Books UK

*Favourite Graphic Novel - Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter by Marcus Sedgwick & Thomas Taylor - Published by First Second.

* 'Favourite Picture Book' - Shaun Tan - Tales from the Inner City (Walker Studio). Every page is a delight and an inspiration to see and read. 

Finally, Mr Ripley's Children's Favourite blog goes to ReaditDaddyThis is a fantastic blog - it is always a great place to find out more about children's books. 

Thank you most of all to the readers of Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books; without you, there would be no blog. Have a great festive period all of you and enjoy the New Year. 

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Wordery 12 Books Of Christmas - What Books Have YOU Bought for Christmas 2018?

12 Books Of Christmas:
New research reveals the 12 books you’re most likely to get under your tree
Wordery unveil the nations best-selling books in the run-up to Christmas

  • Michelle Obama’s page-turning Memoir ‘Becoming’ is the number one bestseller according to Wordery sales data
  • Family favourite ‘The Snowman’ comes in second as it returns for its 4oth anniversary gift edition
  • Two Christmas themed books made the cut with ‘The Snowman’ and ‘We’re Going on an Elf Chase’ both featuring in the list
  • ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris comes in third place, a harrowing tale during the time of the Holocaust and a good read for bookworms.

13th December 2018: Findings released today from Wordery reveal the top 12 bestselling books over the past month. Based on  sales data from the previous month we can reveal the books that are most likely to end up under your Christmas tree.

With nearly 63 million books typically sold in the run-up to Christmas in the UK, which is a third of the market’s annual volume, it comes as no shock that new titles such as ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama are in the race to secure the number one slot in the festive book charts.

With the big day nearing closer, Wordery reveal which 12 best selling books could be under your Christmas tree this year. View the full graphic here.

Wordery’s top 12 selling books:

Michelle Obama
The Snowman: 40th Anniversary Gift
Raymond Briggs
The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Heather Morris
Fire and Blood: 300 years Before a Game of Thrones
George R. R. Martin
Anna Burns
We’re Going on an Elf Chase
Martha Mumford and Laura Hughes
My Name Doddie
Doddie Weir and Stuart Weir
I Adulted!
Robb Pearlman
Golf Rules Quick Referencing
Yves C. Ton-That
Stephen Moss
Thomas Kinkade: the Disney Dreams Collection 2019 Diary
Thomas Kinkade
The Truth Pixie
Matt Haig and Chris Mould

The number one seller ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States is a memoir which was published in November 2018. It details her upbringing in Chicago, motherhood, and her time in the White House alongside lighthearted personal and public moments.

It’s not really Christmas without ‘The Snowman’ taking the silver baton, as this 40th anniversary gift edition comes with a letter from the author Raymond Briggs and also a limited edition illustrative print. This is one for everyone as it’s a true Christmas tradition for generations of children.

The book coming in third is ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris, which tells the story of a Slovakian Jewish man who is captured and put to work as a tattooist marking his fellow prisoners. It’s a harrowing tale during the time of the Holocaust and a good read for those bookworms out there.

Barry Magennis, spokesperson for Wordery, comments

“The outcome provides a diverse insight into what people in the UK are buying in the run up to Christmas. It’s great to see with no surprise two festive books making the cut with the classic literary ‘The Snowman’ being our second best seller. Wordery are looking forward to seeing which books do end up as Christmas gifts this year.”

For more information on the best selling books for Christmas, visit Wordery

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Karen McCombie - Little Bird Flies - Book Review (Nosy Crow) Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Bridie lives on the remote Scottish island of Torrnish, the youngest of three sisters. Although she loves her island, with its wild seas and big skies, she guiltily nurses a secret dream of flight - to America and the freedom of the New World. But her family are struggling under the spiteful oppression of the new Laird, and it seems that even some of the Laird's own household are desperate to leave. When the Laird's full cruelty becomes apparent, there's no more time for daydreams as Bridie needs to help the people she loves to escape to safety.

There are so many books to read and so little time to read them. However, it's time for the fluttering wings of Karen McCombie's latest book, Little Bird Flies, to find its way into the hands of many readers. It will soar and swoop to gracefully land in bookshops and beyond from the 10th January 2019. The book will be published by Nosy Crow Books and will be the first novel in a new series that will capture the hearts and minds of the reader in an evocative and charming way. The story takes you on a family journey that harks back to Victorian times in 1861. The setting is both brilliant and captivating; an idyllic Scottish Island where the inhabitants are living a life in total oblivion beyond their own shores.

The main character Birdie is a very endearing character. Through her eyes, you view the natural rugged beauty of the landscape which makes you feel and understand the total isolation of the residents from the mainland, the world and beyond. The story washes over the reader in a carefree and dreamlike state. Looking at the blue sky on a warm summer's day, the story draws you into the plight of the characters and the hard life they have living on the Island. However, things change again as the result of a sudden death that darkens both the story and the hearts of the characters.

I loved the story and the theme. However, I did feel that in some places the chapters came to an abrupt end. As a result, they felt slightly disjointed when the next chapter started although this did not spoil or disrupt the main content or flow of the story.

The story tackles themes of persecution, emigration and human cruelty which makes the story thought-provoking and particularly topical. I was instantly transported to the Scottish Island. In fact, I felt like I was back on Iona running around, exploring the nature and letting the human mind take flight. This story really resonated with me and fuelled my immense enjoyment. It's a lovely slice of Scotland exploring the beauty of the landscape whilst watching the story unfold in devastating fashion

The author has written many other books, most of which I have read and thoroughly enjoyed. However, with this book, the author is connected deeply to the story which makes it a real pleasure to read. It's a family, period-drama adventure that makes your heart yearn for a better outcome. Full of fantastic characters and an amazing story, both of which will ease you into 2019. A further book is due to be published on 4th July 2019 called Little Bird Lands. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's/Young Adult Book Picks December 2018

Jonathan Ashley - Lily & Kosmo in Outer Outer Space- Published by Simon & Schuster Books for (4 Dec. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1534413641 - Hardback 

Explore outer outer space where dastardly villains await in this hilarious and inventive illustrated middle-grade novel.
Brooklyn, Earth. 1949. 
Lily Lupino is going to be an astronaut when she grows up. For now, she'll have to settle for listening to science fiction programs on the radio. But when certified Spacetronaut Kosmo Kidd crash lands his wind-up rocket ship in Lily's kitchen, it's a chance Lily can't pass up! 
Mistaking Lily for a boy, Kosmo agrees to take her back to his floating treehouse in the stars, but it doesn't take long for the other Spacetronauts to figure out that Lily is a girl. Kosmo has accidentally broken Spacetronaut Rule #1: NO WIMMEN ALOWD!
Banished to the far reaches of Outer Outer Space, Lily and Kosmo explore exotic alien worlds, meet a menagerie of colorful creatures, and tangle with the vilest villain in space, The Mean-Man of Morgo. But Lily's greatest challenge is proving to her new Spacetronaut peers that a girl from Brooklyn can hold her own among the galaxy's unruliest rascals.

Eric Bower - The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate - Published by Amberjack Publishing (11 Dec. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1944995263 - Paperback 

Waldo Baron awakes one morning to find his inventor parents have turned their house into a flying machine, and they intend to enter into a race across the country in the hopes of winning the $500 prize. His parents' plans go astray when they are kidnapped by Rose Blackwood, the sister of notorious villain Benedict Blackwood, who intends to use the prize money to free her brother from prison. But Rose is not what she seems to be, and Waldo finds himself becoming friends with their kindly kidnapper as they race across the country in the magnificent flying Baron estate!

Ben Guterson (Author), Chloe Bristol (Illustrator) - The Secrets of Winterhouse - Published by 

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (December 31, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1250123909 - Hardback 

Bookish puzzles, phantom mysteries, and evil curses await as Elizabeth returns to Winterhouse in Book 2 of this magical series.

Back at the Winterhouse hotel for another holiday season, Elizabeth and Freddy dig deeper into the mystery surrounding Riley S. Granger, a hotel guest who left behind odd artifacts―one being a magical book that the evil Gracella Winters once attempted to use to gain destructive power over the entire Falls lineage. The two friends follow a trail of clues, inadvertently attracting the attention of a suspicious new hotel guest: Elana Vesper. The clock is ticking as Elizabeth and Freddy struggle to figure out whether Elana is merely a pawn or a player in the plot to revive the spirit of Gracella. If that wasn’t enough, Elizabeth suspects she is coming into her own special powers―and she’s fearful it might lead her right into Gracella’s vicious web. Mystery, adventure, and a winning friendship combine in this much-anticipated sequel.

Sarah Beth Durst - Fire & Heist - Published by Crown Books for Young Readers (December 4, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1101931004 - Hardback 

Fans of Cassandra Clare and Julie Kagawa will devour this contemporary fantasy about a teen were-dragon who must steal her first treasure. But a dark discovery during her heist could put her family in incredible danger.

In Sky Hawkins's family, leading your first heist is a major milestone--even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It's a chance to gain power and acceptance within your family and within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated, especially when you're a wyvern--a human capable of turning into a dragon.

Embarking on a life of crime is never easy, and Sky discovers secrets about her mother, who recently went missing, the real reason her boyfriend broke up with her, and a valuable jewel that could restore her family's wealth and rank in their community.

With a handpicked crew by her side, Sky knows she has everything she needs to complete her first heist, and get her boyfriend and mother back in the process. But then she uncovers a dark truth about were-dragon society--a truth more valuable and dangerous than gold or jewels could ever be.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Dan Freedman - Unstoppable - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Secrets and lies . . . secrets and lies . . . Fourteen-year-old twins, Kaine and Roxy, used to be close, but now they can hardly bear to be in the same room. Roxy hates the way her brother behaves - Kaine might be brilliant at football but he's always in trouble and cares nothing about his family. And Kaine despises the way his supposedly-perfect sister, dominates their parents in her ambition to reach Wimbledon. But the twins are both hiding dangerous secrets of their own, secrets that could destroy everything they are working towards - and both Roxy and Kaine's survival hangs precariously in the balance. Gripping, twisting, and real, this book is UNSTOPPABLE.

Whilst most people are still preparing for Christmas, I am already heading towards the new year with my first book review for 2019. I'm excited to be able to review Dan Freedman's brilliant book which is called UNSTOPPABLE. It will hit the shops in February 2019 and is due to be published by David Fickling Books. 

There are many reasons to read this book, but one particular draw are the ways that the main characters have been conceived and developed from the author's visits to schools. As a result, this book pulses with everyday reality and tackles real-life situations that any child might be facing within today's society. The author's careful ear in listening to what pupils were saying and understanding the situations they are facing has enabled him to produce an awe-inspiring book. Many themes are addressed and will be related to by many children such as death and bereavement, gang cultures, friendship, and family issues, unemployment, alcoholism, sibling rivalry, teenager survival etc. 

The story highlights two amazing characters who are twins and sports fanatics. One has a passion for football whilst the other is a keen tennis player. However, the father's support and involvement in nurturing these talents differs between each twin. Kane, whilst a talented football player, receives little support from his father. Yet Roxy, the potential tennis star, is showered with enthusiasm and encouragement to achieve well within the tennis world. To begin with, this is a positive experience. However, as the story unfolds a dramatic turn of events happens which places a lot of pressure on family relationships. 

This is a powerful and influential story that is full of passion, drive, and a sporting spirit. However, at times, it is also incredibly poignant and sad. It certainly makes the reader think about and reflect on what it's like to be a family facing difficult times both socially, physically and economically. Nevertheless, even through all these difficulties, the story ends on an uplifting note which will inspire readers young and old.

This is a brilliant gripping story that will make the reader think about other peoples' lives. It is very thought-provoking and, considering the timing of its release, should encourage readers to be both supportive and loving to those around them. A brilliant and memorable young adult read that will stay with you for evermore. Unstoppable and ready to go...

Sunday, 2 December 2018

H.S. Norup - The Missing Barbegazi - Book Review By Sinéad O'Hart, Author of The Eye of the North

Barbegazi are fabled creatures who live in the alps, rather like gnomes. Tessa knows that they exist because her beloved grandfather told her about them. So she sets out to prove to her family and friends that her grandfather wasn’t just a confused old man. Soon she finds not only a family of Barbegazi but also a dastardly plot to kidnap one and keep it captive. But Tessa realises that uncovering the truth carries great responsibilities – and sometimes things have to remain a secret.
The Missing Barbegazi is a delightful debut novel about the importance of family and the power of hope.
Here we have a lovely Guest Book Review by Sinéad O'Hart, author of The Eye of the North (2018) and The Star-Spun Web (2019)
'Beautiful and unusual... this unexpected and striking story is one to be savoured' 

I am fascinated by words, and so the title of H.S. Norup’s debut novel for children grabbed my attention straight away. Who, or what, is a ‘barbegazi’?When the word is explained in the novel, I loved its etymology and meaning, and – wonderfully – I was charmed that knowing where it came from changed how I was pronouncing it in my head. 

That feeling of charmed wonderment sums up my feelings about this book: it’s beautiful and unusual, like a sculpture made from snow. Telling the story of Tessa, a young girl dealing with the death of her beloved Opa (grandfather) and the sickness, possibly heartbreak, of her equally beloved Oma (grandmother), the book takes us through real-life concerns – doing well in a skiing competition, making friends, navigating the world – and also into the heart of an otherworldly, ethereal mystery. 

This mystery is one which Tessa feels will help her Oma to get well and honour her lost Opa’s memory, and it centres on one unknown quantity: what are the barbegazi? Do they exist? Was Tessa’s Opa making up stories about having seen elves in the mountains? And – chillingly – who else might be on their trail? 

As well as Tessa’s story we have that of Gawion, a young (by barbegazian standards!) creature determined to get to the bottom of who has kidnapped his sister Maeg, and why. I loved his eccentric, long-lived family and their endearing ways, and also the perspective they gave on history and the treatment of the Other in times gone by. Tessa and Gawion make a unique and perceptive team… but can they save Maeg before it’s too late? 

Written in clear and lovely prose, this unexpected and striking story is one to be savoured by readers from 8 and up.

Published by Pushkin Press, 
Paperback 256 pages
Published 04/10/2018

ISBN: 9781782691815

H.S. Norup was born in Denmark and lived in the US, the UK, Austria and Switzerland before moving to Singapore. Now, she has returned to Switzerland with her husband and two teenage sons. This is Helle's debut novel and very much draws on her love of the Alps, her passion for skiing and her belief that magic is all around us - particularly in the love, trust and companionship found in families.