'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Saturday, 1 October 2016

10 Quirky Questions with Anna Branford

1. What's your hidden talent?
I think I am quite good at wrapping up presents. I like wrapping in things that wouldn’t ordinarily be used as wrapping paper, like fabric and beautiful serviettes, and I keep all sorts of funny bits and pieces to use as ribbons and decorations. It is actually one of my favourite things to do.

2. Who is your favourite literary villain and why?
I have a soft spot for the Trunchbull in Roald Dahl’s Matilda. I think it is because of Quentin Blake’s wonderful first illustration of her in the book. I laughed out loud when I first saw it as a child and it still makes me laugh now. She treated lovely Miss Honey dreadfully and I don’t think it can ever be okay for a teacher to be cruel to children in her care. But I can’t help thinking that someone as hilarious as the Trunchbull couldn’t possibly be all bad.

3. You're hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors would you invite? (alive or dead)
CS Lewis, Enid Blyton, bell hooks, Alain de Botton and Oscar Wilde. But actually I’d invite them all separately and only for a cup of tea, because I don’t really like dinner parties and I bet a few of them don’t either.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Review: Malkin Moonlight

Malkin Moonlight
Emma Cox’s debut novel is a stunning animal adventure full of philosophical wisdom and life skills. It is a journey of hope, transition, and love.

Malkin Moonlight is a cat full of sad memories. He is in transit to his true self. The road is long and difficult. Named so, and gifted with a circle of white around his neck by the moon, he is told that he is destined for great things. After his tragic beginnings, he is ready for new beginnings. He sets out full of optimism to become who he was born to be. A peace-loving cat by nature, his destiny is to right wrongs, and offer kindness and love to whoever needs it.

Review: StoryWorlds: Nature

I really, really love a good wordless picture book. Like, seriously love. The illustrations are invariably magnificent because they need to carry the story, and the nuance and underlying messaging that can change from reader to reader is just the absolute best.

In Story Worlds Nature, Thomas Hegbrook explores this concept in a non-narrative way, taking small slices of 'story' from the world of wild animals and presenting them in vignette-style imagery across double-page spreads.

Each image contains a micro story that children can ponder and explore, coming up with their own version of what might be happening.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Review: The Twins of Tintarfell

The Twins of Tintarfell - James O'Loghlin

Bart and Danni are twins orphaned at birth. Like many other orphans raised in Tintarfell Castle, their life and freedom is forfeited to the king and queen; exchanged for servitude, miserly amounts of food, and a hard place to sleep.

On their half days off, they play behind the stables. Despite their dislike of him, they are pressured to befriend the lonely, over-indulged, motherless Prince Edward, heir to the throne.

To please the sick King, Bart is manipulated into riding Edward’s wild horse Midnight. Their lives change overnight when during the ride, Bart is kidnapped and held for ransom. Unknown to anyone, even Danni, Bart is able to communicate by thought with animals, a gift passed on through the male line. Could someone else know of Bart’s powers?

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Review: Paper and Fire (The Great Library Series #2)

The first book in this series, Ink and Bone, was one of my highlights for 2015, so I couldn't wait to see if that promise continued in Book 2. I'm pleased to say that it does. Rachel Caine is delivering a cracker of a series!

At the end of Book 1, Jess and his friends Glain, Dario and Khalila were back in the Great Library of Alexandria, each assigned a role after surviving their year as postulants. They were still reeling, though, from the death of Thomas and the imprisonment of Morgan (revealed as an Obscurist) in the Iron Tower.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

12 Curly Questions with Ross Watkins

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
I received my first publishing rejection at age eleven for a picture book I wrote and my brother illustrated. I still have ‘BJ’s Adventures’ and the rejection letter – I get them out occasionally to remind myself of the boy who once dreamed he could be an author.

2. What is your nickname?
Ross the Boss or Rosco PeekoTrain or Rishta or Rossy or Dr Dogson. None seem to stick.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Not publishing another book ever again. Oh, and skydiving.

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Sometimes sparse, sometimes generous – always with a touch of melancholy.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
Empathetic, unhurried, methodical, precise, perfectionist.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Review: Imagining the Future

We live in a world where amazing new breakthroughs in science and technology are made every week. So many things that were considered fantastic and fanciful in science fiction decades ago are now an everyday reality and our scientists and innovators continue to develop new products, techniques and technologies that change the way we deal with a range of everyday challenges and activities.

In Imagining the Future, authors Simon Torok and Paul Holper to facilitate new innovations that might one day soon transform our favourite sci-fi, and even some fantasy, creations from fiction to reality.

Covering a range of inventions from robotics and computer technology to instant travel, invisibility and colonising other planets, Imagining the Future inspires readers to believe that it is possible to turn their dreams into reality by revealing what inventors and scientists are already achieving.

Review: Day of the Dinosaurs

This large format, stunningly illustrated book will probably make any young dinosaur lover roar with delight!

Divided into four periods — the Triassic, the Early-Middle Jurassic, the Late Jurassic, and the Cretaceous — Day of the Dinosaurs takes readers on a journey of discovery into how dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals lived on land, in the water and in the skies.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Review: Introducing Teddy

Introducing Teddy
Errol and Thomas the Teddy are best friends. They do everything together - ride bikes, climb trees, have picnic lunches and play at the park. One day, even playing on the swings isn’t enough to make Thomas happy and Errol can tell his friend is sad.

“What’s wrong Thomas? Talk to me!”
“If I tell you,” said Thomas, “you might not be my friend any more.”

As important as the central theme of this book is, with Thomas the Teddy revealing that he would actually prefer to be called Tilly and wear his bowtie as a hairbow, there is so much more to this wonderful exploration of identity.

Review: Tom Topp and the Great Adventure Swap

Tom Topp has great plans for the weekend. His three older brothers are all going to be doing really cool things — Eddie is going ice-skating, Henry is going waterskiing, and Rusty is going hiking. The problem is choosing which one of them to go with.

Actually, no, that's not the problem. The problem is that he has a broken leg so he can't go with any of them. No matter how hard he tries to persuade his mother and brothers that he could manage, they're adamant that he won't be going ice-skating, waterskiing or hiking any time soon.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Review: Little Bits of Sky

Ira and her younger brother Zac end up at the orphanage named Skilly House after several foster home trials. Their childhood experiences - the sadness and heartbreak, the kindness and joy, are related later in life by Ira, using the diaries she kept from the time the two entered Skilly.

Ira’s voice is unique. Her sharp powers of observation and use of smart and detailed language reflect her artistic abilities. This helps create a fluid and powerful narrative.

I enjoyed the insertion of the ghost of the unknown Glenda that visits Ira. Who is she and why is she at Skilly? This divergent theme left strings trailing and further whetted my interest.

12 Curly Questions with Mulga the Artist

Image result for mulga the artist

2. What is your nickname?
Mulga, I recited the poem Mulga Bill’s Bicycle by Banjo Patterson when I was in year 5 and Mulga became my nickname from that day forward.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Getting bitten in half by a shark.

4. Describe your illustration style in ten words.
Wacky wonderful colourful weird hairy magical intricately detailed fun humorous

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as an illustrator.
Fun, weird, wacky, hairy, detail orientated.

6. What book character would you be, and why?I would be fishes in ponchos plucking guitars, prancing around under the stars. I can relate to those guys.