Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Book Picks - October 2019 - Post Two

Sophie MacKenzie (Author), Martin Remphry (Illustrator) - Harry and Kate at the Book Museum - Published by Barrington Stoke (15 Oct. 2019)

The old books in the museum are worth a lot of money. So, when Harry and Kate spot a man acting oddly, they decide to investigate! A brilliantly accessible short story with a reading age of 6, Harry and Kate at the Book Museum is designed to help severely struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 8+

Amy Wilson - Shadows of Winterspell - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (17 Oct. 2019) 

Deep in the forest, magic is waiting . . .
Sparkling with frost and magic, Shadows of Winterspell will sweep you up in a world of friendship and magic, to uncover family secrets and find out who you really are.
Stella has been living behind the magic of the forest for most of her life. Lonely, she enrolls at the local school, and as she begins to make friends, she discovers that she is even more different than she thought. But as autumn turns to magical winter, Stella realizes that uncovering her own family secret is the only way to release the forest from the grip of a dark and old magic.
A wintery magical adventure from the critically-acclaimed Amy Wilson, author of A Girl Called Owl.

Catherine Fisher - The Velvet Fox (The Clockwork Crow) - Published by Firefly Press (3 Oct. 2019)

After rescuing Tomas from enchantment, orphan Seren Rhys is enjoying her first summer at Plas-y-Fran. But as autumn arrives, it brings with it a mysterious new governess who seems intent on drawing Tomas away from Seren and his family. Dangerous figures from a bewitched toy carousel stalk the house and, fearing the worst, Seren calls on the clockwork crow to help her. But can he reach her in time, and will Tomas be able to escape the magical creatures threatening to ensnare him, led by the Velvet Fox?

Gerald Killingworth - The Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules - Published by Pushkin Children's Books (24 Oct. 2019)

Do you dare to enter the Dead World?
Welcome to the Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules - a place just on the other side of that door, a grey place with a dreadful secret. A boy called Edwin stumbles from our shiny world into this twilit one in search of something very precious to him. The only person who can help him is Lanthorne Ghules, a frightened boy his own age who is trying to escape the horrifying old ways.

In this inventive, funny and at times scary book, author Gerald Killingworth plunges us into a land of thrilling horror, full of menacing creatures and rotten surprises. It is a dangerous place, but there is kindness too - you just need to find it.

Robin Scott-Elliot - The Tzar's Curious Runaways - Published by Everything with Words (17 Oct. 2019) - Mr. Ripley's Book of the Month - Book Review Here. 

A magical, captivating tale of adventure set in imperial Russia. St Petersburg, Russia 1725. Katinka Dashkova is running for her life because everything she knows is changing. Katinka, a dazzling ballerina with a hunched back, and her friends Alexei the Giant and Nikolai the dwarf are different. That's why they are part of Peter the Great's Circus of Curiosities. But the Tzar is dead and they must flee the Winter Palace. Guided by a special map, they set out across Russia running for their lives. An enthralling and delicious blend of history and fiction.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Paul Mason (Author), Katy Riddell (Illustrator) - The International Yeti Collective - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

The International Yeti Collective is the first installment in a brand new series by Paul Mason. The book will swing its way from fantasy into reality on 17th October, 2019. It is being published by the mighty Stripes Publishing Company. The finished copy has been beautifully illustrated by Katy Riddell, daughter of the former Children's Laureate, Chris Riddell. Unfortunately, the illustrations are missing from my advanced copy, however, the book cover image is absolutely fantastic. It invites the reader into a wild adventure that is a real delight and a joy to read. 

The story instantly transports the reader to the fantastic backdrop of the Himalayas in search of the elusive Yeti. The author draws upon these mythical creatures to whip up the fantasy and get the reader galloping through the pages. He has crafted a brilliant backdrop which may have been inspired from his home (an island in New Zealand). As you follow Ella and her broadcasting explorer uncle, you will be hurtled into a thrilling action-adventure that covers many themes that are incredibly relevant and topical today. The story playfully brings attention to climate change, habitat destruction, and other ecological themes. This underlying message is cleverly woven into the fabric of the story and will resonate with many readers. 

The split narrative will cleverly show you both sides of the story as the rolling mist and the snap of twigs take you into a land of escapism.  You only have to turn the first pages before being introduced to the main character Tick and the secretive collective. Unfortunately, the lovable character and his inquisitive mind put all of the Yetis in danger. When humans arrive on the mountainside, he finds himself peering through the trees to get a closer look. Tick knows it's against Yeti law to approach humans as it threatens the existence of Yeti all over the world and the natural balance of nature they bring to the planet. However, he just can't help himself!

This is a fantastic family read full of hairy warmth, hope, friendship and putting things right within the world. You will experience an uplifting and heartfelt plot packed full of excitement and exhilarating moments. The story is easy to read and full of wit, empathy, and humour. The story is imaginative and very cleverly written. I loved the broadcasting angle of the story which brings it all neatly together and creates some fantastically surreal moments. I also loved the reference and introduction to some of the nineteen different Yeti setts as highlighted in the Encyclopedia Yetannica! This is a great book for discussion both in the classroom and at home. I certainly can't wait for the next book in the series - I'm eagerly anticipating a fantastic sequel. 

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Book Picks - October 2019 - Post One

Holly Webb - The Runaways - Published by Scholastic (3 Oct. 2019)

It's London in the late 1930s, and the Second World War is imminent. When a young Londoner called Molly hears that the children in her neighbourhood are being evacuated, she feels relieved. The war scares her, and living in the city means living in the heart of danger.
However, Molly's relief is short-lived because her mum refuses to let her go, telling her that she has to stay and help with the war effort. And that's not all - times are tough, and food is already being rationed, which means there's not enough for people, let alone pets. This means that Molly's beloved dog Bertie is now considered "surplus to requirement".
So Molly decides to escape.
Stowing away on a train, Molly makes it to the country, but once there the reality of her situation dawns on her: she doesn't know where she is or who to trust. It's not until Molly comes across two other runaways that she starts to feel safe again. Maybe, just maybe, with each other's help, they have a chance of overcoming the trials put in front of them.

Onjali Rauf - The Star Outside my Window - Published by Orion Children's Books (3 Oct. 2019)

Following the disappearance of her mum, 10-year-old Aniyah suddenly finds herself living in foster care. With her life in disarray, she knows just one thing for sure: her mum isn't gone forever. Because people with the brightest hearts never truly leave. They become stars. 
So when a new star is spotted acting strangely in the sky, Aniyah is sure it's her mum, and she embarks on the adventure of a lifetime to make sure everyone else knows too -- an adventure that involves breaking into the Royal Observatory of London, a mischievous scurry of squirrels and the biggest star in Hollywood...

Sophie Dahl (Author), Lauren O'Hara (Illustrator) - Madame Badobedah - Published by Walker Books (3 Oct. 2019)

A timeless story celebrating friendship and imagination, from an exciting new voice in children's literature.
Mabel lives with her parents in The Mermaid Hotel, by the sea. Mabel likes to keep an eye on the comings and goings of all the guests. Then one day a particularly in-ter-est-ing old lady comes to stay. There is something very suspicious about her, with her growly voice and her heavy trunks and her beady-eyed tortoise. And why does no one know her REAL name? There can only be one answer, Mabel decides ... this guest is a SUPERVILLAIN.

Jamie Littler - Frostheart - Published by Puffin (3 Oct. 2019)
Bursting with brilliant characters, heart-stopping adventure and tons of laughs, this magical tale is perfect for fans of NevermoorFrozen and How to Train Your Dragon!
Way out in the furthest part of the known world, a tiny stronghold exists all on its own, cut off from the rest of human-kin by monsters that lurk beneath the Snow Sea. 
There, a little boy called Ash waits for the return of his parents, singing a forbidden lullaby to remind him of them... and doing his best to avoid his very, VERY grumpy yeti guardian, Tobu.
But life is about to get a whole lot more crazy-adventurous for Ash. 
When a brave rescue attempt reveals he has amazing magical powers, he's whisked aboard the Frostheart, a sleigh packed full of daring explorers who could use his help. But can they help him find his family . . . ?

Friday, 30 August 2019

Liz Hyder - Bearmouth - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

Published by Pushkin Press / Hardback / 19 September 2019 / £12.99/ISBN-13: 978-1782692423

Today, I have a review for a powerful debut book by Liz Hyder. The book will be published on the 19th September 2019 by Puskin Press. It's aimed at a young adult audience from the age of thirteen upwards and has one of the more intriguing synopsis you will find this year.  The book cover will certainly inspire any reader to pick it up this autumn.

The story is both bold and brave, in my opinion. The plot is told from a young person's perspective - a character called Newt. The story is written in the language of his learning of letters and words. Some of the words need to be worked out as it's told more or less phonetically.  However, this gives the reader thinking time and makes the dialogue a little unique; it's a nice workout for the mental brain! The nature of the book is very dark and matches the character's surroundings deep down in the mine. There are some graphic scenes of death and other adult themes in this book, so it holds no punches for the reader as emotions see-saw up and down with the narrative. 

The story is very atmospheric and gripping. It's an epic journey into the unknown and has been written with great intelligence through a powerful and descriptive plot. The book and the characters question their beliefs as they fight the religious tyranny and social injustice they find down the mine. The working conditions are brutal and dangerous (the book explores the themes of child labour and Victorian-style working conditions). However, the bravery, courage, and friendships which are formed along the way, hit the reader with a beacon of light in a place of total darkness.

As you follow resourceful and clever Newt through his day-to-today adventures, the candlelight flickers on the reader with hope and justice for him and his fellow friends and workers. The story has some lovely twists and turns to uncover the truth as they conquer their fears in a claustrophobic environment.  It's a brilliant and thought-provoking piece of writing that you will not be able to put down. It will shock you, grip you and punch you in the fantasy face as Newt's perspective will pluck at every reader's hearts leaving each one feeling very emotional. What a great reading discovery full of gritty realism in a bygone world! Don't delay - pick it up and enter the world now. 

Book Synopsis: Life in Bearmouth is one of hard labour, the sunlit world above the mine a distant memory. Reward will come in the next life with the benevolence of the Mayker. New accepts everything - that is until the mysterious Devlin arrives. Suddenly, Newt starts to look at Bearmouth with a fresh perspective, questioning the system, and setting in motion a chain of events that could destroy their entire world.

In this powerful and brilliantly original debut novel, friendship creates strength, courage is hard-won and hope is the path to freedom.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books: US Kids/Young Adult Book Picks - September 2019

Erin Entrada Kelly - Lalani of the Distant Sea - Published by Greenwillow Books (September 3, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-0062747273 - Hardback - Age: 8+

Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut fantasy novel is a gorgeous, literary adventure about bravery, friendship, self-reliance, and the choice between accepting fate or forging your own path.
When Lalani Sarita’s mother falls ill with an incurable disease, Lalani embarks on a dangerous journey across the sea in the hope of safeguarding her own future. Inspired by Filipino folklore, this engrossing fantasy is for readers who loved Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Disney’s Moana. 
Life is difficult on the island of Sanlagita. To the west looms a vengeful mountain, one that threatens to collapse and bury the village at any moment. To the north, a dangerous fog swallows sailors who dare to venture out, looking for a more hospitable land. And what does the future hold for young girls? Chores and more chores. 
When Lalani Sarita’s mother falls gravely ill, twelve-year-old Lalani faces an impossible task—she must leave Sanlagita and find the riches of the legendary Mount Isa, which towers on an island to the north. But generations of men and boys have died on the same quest—how can an ordinary girl survive the epic tests of the archipelago? And how will she manage without Veyda, her best friend?

Margaret Peterson Haddix - Remarkables - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (September 24, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-0062838469 - Hardback - Age: 8+

One minute they’re there: laughing and having fun at the house next door. The next minute, the teens are gone. Like magic. Marin can’t believe her eyes. Who are they? Can anyone else see them? What makes them so happy?
Marin is lonely in this new town of hers and eager to figure out more. Then she meets Charley, who reveals that he knows about them, too.
He calls them the “Remarkables.” Charley warns her to stay away from the Remarkables—and him. Charley and Marin both have painful secrets they’re holding on to, but could solving the mystery of the Remarkables help them both?
In addition to building an intriguing world filled with mystery, Haddix also grounds the story with real issues that many children face. Characters deal with the complexities of bullying, the guilt children experience when parents have addiction issues, and the uplifting power found in strong families of all shapes and sizes.

Melissa Grey - Rated - Published by Scholastic Press (September 3, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1338283570 - Hardback - Age: 12+

The ratings are real. One number, 0 to 100, determines your place in society. Earn a high rating, and the world is yours for the taking. But fall to zero, and you may as well cease to exist.

Societies thrive on order, and the Rating System is the ultimate symbol of organized social mobility. 

The higher it soars, the more valued you are. The lower it plummets, the harder you must work to improve yourself. For the students at the prestigious Maplethorpe Academy, every single thing they do is reflected in their ratings, updated daily and available for all to see.

But when an act of vandalism sullies the front doors of the school, it sets off a chain reaction that will shake the lives of six special students -- and the world beyond.

A . M .Robin - Hidden Scales (Merrows) - Published by A.M. Robin (September 1, 2019) -  ISBN-13: 978-0578490014 - Paperback - Age: 8+ (www.amrobin.com)

Merrows are supposed to be extinct. No one has seen the water-breathing creatures in over a century. 
That's all eleven-year-old Mira has time to think as she stares at the silver scales that have spread over her foot before she accidentally triggers a curse that will change her world forever. She and her best friend, Peter, are forced to embark on a journey across the kingdom, escaping from ruthless spies who will stop at nothing to capture them before anyone else learns Mira's secret. 

With the help of a runaway scholar and a familiar young boy who reveals that he, too, has just discovered that he is a merrow, the children begin to train to beat the spies at their own game. Before they can truly find safety, Mira must learn to use the mysterious powers of her people, or else she and her friends may never be able to return home again.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Nick Ward - The Night's Realm - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

  • Are you afraid of the dark? Well, you might be if you read this book. Nick Ward (author and illustrator) will see his latest project come to life as it's published by David Fickling Books on the 5th September 2019. The book supports a fantastic cover design that will invite many readers to look and read it. With its title foil-blocked, it will certainly sparkle on the shelves just like the story inside. The book features some brilliant black and white illustrations which are a visual treat. They will certainly gravitate any young and/or reluctant reader into giving this story a try.

  • Dare to Enter...  and turn the pages. Billy has a secret. A secret he doesn't want anyone to know. Shhh! .... he is absolutely terrified of the dark. Surely not? However, things are about to get very scary and maybe a little crazy for Billy as finds himself trapped in a land where it is always dark. Unfortunately, he is the only one who can remember home. Can Billy step up, face his fears and save all the other children? It's time for him to believe in himself.

  • You have come this far reader...  This is a fantastic story to read from the very first page. Instantly transported into a world of nightmares, darkness, magic, witches and warlocks, you'll eventually arrive at the perfect setting. A parallel wobbly world, where things are not quite what they seem. There's a foreboding fortress of darkness leaking through the foggy air of unnaturalness. This story is very imaginative and creative - there are some fantastic ideas that have been conjured up. All of which help to pull on the spooky plot as you run for your dear life... and you will RUN.

  • As the main character (Billy) needs to face his fears and become the reluctant hero, he finds himself needing to overpower the magician in a strange realm. He needs to save his newfound friends before the fear is sucked right out of their living bodies. It's a fantastic reminder about what lies in the dark and facing your fears, especially when you are young. 

  • This is a brilliant read perfect for Halloween or readers who like a little scare when they are reading. Although, it is also uplifting, charming and relatable on so many levels. It's a visual treat and a charming delight with some surreal magical adventure moments that you will love. So step up, face your fears and be brave enough to accept this book recommendation from Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books.
   Visit Nick Wards Website: www.nickwardillustration.co.uk

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Ellen Renner - Under Earth Quiz - Which Elemental Would Choose You? (Nosy Crow Books)

Storm Witch is the first book in a thrilling fantasy quartet which was published September 2018. It is set in a world of islands where Elemental spirits rule and pirates, known as the Drowned Ones, roam the seas looking for a home. 
At the heart of the story is thirteen-year-old Storm, who is bestowed with great but dangerous, magical powers. In this book, we ride the Storm of turbulent times on a wave of magical fantasy. It is an epic adventure which is why the next book, Under Earth, has been eagerly anticipated. It is due to be published by Nosy Crow Books this August (2019). 
Are you ready to join the fantasy middle-grade realm once again? The island's new Weather witch, Storm, finds herself sailing with the fleet into dangerous waters. The Drowned Ones are out for revenge, the sea is treacherous, but it’s Bellum Town that brings Storm her first real test. It's where she learns that her magic could save her or it could be the end of everything…  

Another great story worth investigating...

To celebrate this release Ellen Renner has created a brilliant quiz based on the books and the series– ‘Which Elemental Would Choose You?’ – to find out if you are a child of Air, Water, Earth or Fire. Take the quiz today and maybe share the results on social media. One lucky person might win a copy of the book. So, why not check it out and have some summer holiday fun. 

Monday, 12 August 2019

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Book Picks - September 2019

Piers Torday - The Frozen Sea - Published by Quercus Children's Books (5 Sept. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1786540768 - Hardback - Age: 9+ 

It is 1984 and forty years since Simon, Patricia and Evelyn and Larry first stepped through a magical library door into the enchanted world of Folio. When Patricia's daughter, Jewel, makes a mysterious discovery in an old bookshop, she begins a quest that will make her question everything she thought she knew. Summoned to Folio, she must rescue her missing aunt, helped only by her rude pet hamster Fizz and a malfunctioning robot.
Their mission to the Frozen Sea will bring them face-to-face with a danger both more deadly and more magnificent than they ever imagined.
What Jewel discovers will change not just who she thinks she is, but who we all think we are...

Victoria Schwab - Tunnel of Bones (City of Ghosts) - Published by Scholastic Press (3 Sept. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1338111040 - Hardback - Age: 9+

The thrilling sequel to Victoria Schwab's New York Timesbestselling City of Ghosts!
Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual. 
She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass's parents are filming their TV show about the world's most haunted cities. Sure, it's fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there's true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs. 
When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter -- and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger. 
And if Cass fails, the force she's unleashed could haunt the city forever.

Simon Mockler - Beatrix the Bold and the Riddletown Dragon - Published by Piccadilly Press (5 Sept. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1848127678 - Paperback - Age: 8+

A gloriously funny and anarchic series full of wizards, queens and more than a little mud
Perfect for fans of Andy Stanton, Danny Wallace and Roald Dahl 
Beatrix the Bold is a queen. A very bold queen. And she's also only ten years old. But that's never stopped her from doing anything before, and it's not going to stop her now. She's already averted her own kidnapping and fought off an Evil Army. Now she needs to find her long-lost parents, and fend off her villainous aunt Esmerelda. She just has to cross a vast kingdom to get there and save a bunch of children from deadly peril while confronting a terrifying dragon ... Easy, right? But when you're Beatrix the Bold and you've got Oi the Boy, Dog the Dog and Wilfred the Wise by your side, you can do anything . . .

Sophie Anderson (Author), Kathrin Honesta (Illustrator) - The Girl Who Speaks Bear - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (5 Sept. 2019) ISBN-13: 978-1474940672 - Paperback - Age: 9

They call me Yanka the Bear. Not because of where I was found - only a few people know about that. They call me Yanka the Bear because I am so big and strong.
Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, Yanka has always wondered about where she is from. She tries to ignore the strange whispers and looks from the villagers, wishing she was as strong on the inside as she is on the outside. But, when she has to flee her house, looking for answers about who she really is, a journey far beyond one that she ever imagined begins: from icy rivers to smouldering mountains meeting an ever-growing herd of extraordinary friends along the way.

Natasha Farrant (Author), Lydia Corry (Illustrator) - Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror - Published by Zephyr (5 Sept. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1788541152 - Hardback - Age: ?

Here are eight princesses for the Rebel Girls generation: bold, empowered, full of curiosity, adventure and determined to be true to themselves. Natasha Farrant's original stories are set in different times all around the world, blending modern and traditional storytelling with glowing full-colour illustrations by debut artist Lydia Corry in a glorious gift book. 
'Mirror, mirror on the wall... what makes a princess excellent?' When the enchantress flings her magic mirror into our universe, reflected in it are princesses who refuse to be pretty, polite or obedient. These are girls determined to do the rescuing themselves. The Arabian princess of the desert protects her people from the king with the black and gold banner; Latin American Princess, Tica, takes a crocodile for a pet; a Scottish princess explores the high seas; African Princess, Abayome, puts empathy and kindness above being royal; and in a tower-block, Princess saves her precious community garden from the hands of urban developers. Complemented by detailed, jewel-coloured artwork, these beautifully imagined stories are a twist on familiar princess tales.
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Friday, 9 August 2019

Interview with Marie Basting - #PrincessBMX Blog Tour - (Chicken House Books)

Welcome to Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books. Today, we are celebrating the debut publication of Marie Basting's book, Princess BMX. The book was published on the 1st August 2019 by Chicken House Books and has been superbly illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino. You should check out the website link for more examples of amazing artwork and design.  

The book is a perfect fairytale adventure for the summer that will entertain younger readers or possibly the inner princess within you. This week, the author will be zipping by on her BMX bike showing off her tricks and riding the air on some of the best children's blogs around. Please see the blog tour banner at the bottom of this page for more information.

Marie has kindly answered some questions to give us a thought-provoking insight into the book. Hopefully, it will also give you a taste of what you might find amongst the pages of this brilliant story. So, without further delay, here is the interview with Marie. I hope you enjoy this post and follow the other posts as part of this tour. 

How would you describe Princess BMX to potential readers? 
Princess BMX is a funny, upside-down fairy tale adventure that brings the princess story bang up to date. It’s upside-down for a number of reasons. Firstly, it features a fairy tale character who finds everything changes when she comes to our world – she’s been brought up surrounded by dragons and unicorns and yet she finds magic in the urban chaos of Camden and BMX. The other characters are a bit upside down too, playing with reader expectations and challenging the tropes of the fairy tale.

What fun and games does Avariella get up to in this book? 
Avariella, or Ava as her new friends call her, spends a lot of time hanging around the skate-park in Camden, BMX being a natural progression from her extreme sack racing back home. Through BMX, she finds the freedom and acceptance she’s been seeking, but her radical sporting adventures are not without consequence triggering a whole host of magical fun and games. 

What is the Bubblegum Bazaar? 
The Bubble Gum Bazaar is whatever the reader wants it to be. We know it’s a fete in the far reaches of Biscotti, and that it’s significant enough for the royal family to put their best togs on, but much of the detail is left to the imagination. It’s important to me not to talk down to or spoon-feed young readers, to leave gaps for them to fill. It’s their imaginations that complete the story. 

Do you use humour in this book? What effect do you think laughter has on the reader? 
I’ve been told by my dog, who can be quite mean about my writing if I don’t feed her sufficient biscuits, that Princess BMX is a very funny book. I’m hoping readers agree and my fluffy critic hasn’t just had one gravy bone too many. Humorous books are increasingly important. Thanks to the mess adults have made of things, kids have far too much to worry about. Laughter provides a release, allowing them to focus on the now. Funny books are sometimes looked down on but they can help nurture a lifelong love of reading, and what’s wrong with having a little fun? 

If you could choose one BMX bike, what would it be and why? 
I’m rubbish on a BMX so probably one with magical powers that would stop me being such a wussy knickers and help me attack the berm with the same ferocity as Ethan, Ava’s first proper friend. And, NO, he is not her boyfriend!!! 

The book cover and interior illustrations are by one of my favourite illustrators, Flavia Sorrentino. How do they complement the story? 
I adore Flavia’s illustrations. She captures Ava’s adventurous and rebellious nature so well, reinforcing her unconventionality. Flavia’s illustrations allow readers to pause and really consider the characters and the magical world I’ve created while also adding an extra element of excitement and awe to the key action scenes.

When writing books for children, what do you think they look for in a good story? What do you think they will like the most about your book? 
There are so many different genres within children’s fiction, it’s difficult to generalise, but I think the one constant is the desire for a character they can connect with. Princess Ava may come from a different world but she wants the same things any child does – friendship, acceptance and for grown-ups to stop moaning at her. She’s also funny and kind and brave, so while the humour is likely to be the first thing to draw the reader in, I think it’s Ava’s spirit they’ll love the most.

How hard was it to get your first book published? 
On the surface, it wasn’t that hard at all. I pitched the book more by accident before it was ready to submit and feel extremely lucky that Chicken House wanted to publish it. You have to remember, though, it took me until I reached my forties to actually shake off the self-doubt and believe someone like me could become a writer. Believing in myself and rising above the expectations set by others was the hardest bit of my writing journey. 

You're hosting a literary dinner party, which authors/illustrators would you invite and why? 
I’d invite all the fantastic writers and illustrators who have supported me on the way: SCBWI friends, my MA cohort and the lovely middle-grade debut authors I’ve connected with more recently. They are my real literary heroes and they’re probably much more likely to turn-up than Neil Gaiman or Jack Kerouac.

Marie Basting is the author of Princess BMX, a true story which provides conclusive proof that magic is real and bikes are the new broomstick. OK, that is a big fat lie, but Marie mostly speaks the truth particularly on Tuesdays when she teaches synchronised swimming to mermaids and helps out at a shelter for homeless goblins.

Princess BMX is Marie’s debut novel. But she plans to write lots more as soon as she has finished watching Adventure Time. Marie loves Adventure Time because, like Princess BMX, it is a kind of modern fairy tale, and Marie wants to show children that magic is everywhere even if it is sometimes hard to find. That sounds corny but trust me it is not as corny as Marie’s feet. 

Twitter: @riewriting
Website: mariebasting.com

(Blog Tour Banner)

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Carlie Sorosiak - I, Cosmo - Blog Tour - Nosy Crow Books (8th Aug 2019)

It's an absolute pleasure to be part of the blog tour for Carlie Sorosiak's I, Cosmo which was published by the mighty Nosy Crow Books on August 1st, 2019. This is a fantastic and poignant story from the perspective of a much-loved pet, a dog called Cosmo. Below this review, Carlie has written a small post about the process of writing from this perspective. 

This is a brilliantly written story that makes you think about Cosmo's relationship with Max and his feuding family. The narrative is very thought-provoking whilst also dribbling with turkey juices and doggy humour. The more you read, the sadder the story gets, so get ready with the tissues! The story is very sensitively told and is an insightful view of modern-day family life.

The story plays with human emotions setting you on a path of human frailty and the complexities of a family unit.  It's a very relatable story, one dog's attempt to save his family, that will both delight and entertain you from the very first page. You will dance and skip through the beating narrative which will engulf you with warmth, sadness, and happiness. All of which works on so many levels. 

This is a barking and slightly different adventure where cats are not allowed.  I, Cosmo is a wagging-tail star in the making! 

Author's Guest Post. 
On writing from an animal’s perspective. 
Several times now, I’ve been asked: How difficult was it for you to write from a dog’s perspective? I think the assumption here, in large part, is that it must’ve been difficult – than placing oneself in the mind of a non-human narrator is a considerable challenge. Looking back at the writing process, I can absolutely see why people might think that; after all, Cosmo is more prone to focusing on his sense of smell (and on squirrels) than the average human. 

But I’ll admit that I’ve never truly fit in with most humans. I find a great deal of them entirely perplexing. Some social interactions baffle me; deciding where to sit in my middle school cafeteria was akin to diffusing a bomb – in stress level, at least. My comfort has always been with animals, dogs in particular. They’re great listeners. They wear their emotions in the flick of their tails, in the position of their ears. I understand them in a way that I never have with people. 

So I was quite confident when I started writing Cosmo – and that confidence continued the whole way through the process. I hope I’ve captured that essential dog-ness. And I hope that I, Cosmo is a comfort to others like me, who often prefer the company of animals.

Author Bio - Carlie Sorosiak grew up in North Carolina. She has a master’s in English from Oxford University and another in publishing from City, University of London. She is the author of two novels for young adults, If Birds Fly Back and Wild Blue Wonder. Her goals include traveling to all seven continents and fostering a wide variety of animals. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and her American dingo. 

Twitter: @carliesorosiak 
Website: carliesorosiak.com

Book Synopsis
The story of one dog's attempt to save his family, become a star, and eat a lot of bacon. Cosmo's family is falling apart. And it's up to Cosmo to keep them together. He knows exactly what to do. There's only one problem. Cosmo is a Golden Retriever. Wise, funny, and filled with warmth and heart, this is Charlotte's Web meets Little Miss Sunshine - a moving, beautiful story, with a wonderfully unique hero, from an incredible new voice in middle-grade fiction. 

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