I absolutely love Jez Alborough’s new picture book, Six Little Chicks.
It’s written in brilliant verse, the pictures are – I think – among the best that Jez has ever done… it’s a delight. So I was really pleased to see that it’s been reviewed over at Bookish Bites. And that’s not all – check this out:
They’ve only gone and BAKED the chicken coop, complete with the cutest wide-eyed little chicks you’ve ever seen. It’s amazing. If you’d like to see more and bigger pictures of this astonishing build, and learn how to do it yourself, pop over to Bookish Bites.
Our special National Libraries Day guest blog posts continue today with a review of Matt Haig’s To be a Cat. Rachel Bowles, MyVoice project co-ordinator for Hounslow has written this sparkling review of the book. A big thank you to Rachel!
“Imagine what it would be like…to be a cat”
Barney Willow is a boy who becomes a cat who becomes a boy. Sound confusing? I thought so too. Until I opened the book that is. A charmingly funny story that makes the proverb of being careful of what you wish for much more than just a cliche.
Barney is an average boy, he might be just like the reader – we can identify with him right from the start. He’s having a bit (ok, underexagerration here) of a bad time of it as we meet him; getting picked on at school by another boy (the despicable Gavin Needle – who does get his comeuppance in the end), his parents have split up, and his beloved Dad is missing. He is even being singled out by the headteacher from Hell! Life is not good for Barney Willow. You could say it couldn’t get any worse.
Yet it does get worse. As we follow Barney through his adventure we watch him become a cat, learn their magic, find his dad and most importantly learn to love himself. Just when you think all hope is gone for Barney, he turns it around, showing that good does prevail and friendship counts for a lot.
The author is witty and his frequent interuptions into the story are done in a brilliant and thoughtful way. Just enough to give us what we need to quell our curiosity with new characters or information.
The book is well written and does more than enough to encourage the claim that it is a true story. Will I wish to become a cat? Not after reading this!
To celebrate National Libraries day 2012, we asked librarians to review some of our top 2012 titles. Unsurprisingly, we received a huge response via a special Librarians Newsletter. We picked just a handful of people to submit book reviews; they’ve done a fantastic job! This week, we’re showcasing the reviews starting with a review of Simon Mayo’s ITCH. Jo Huett of Rossett School in Harrogate has provided the review – thanks Jo!
ITCH starts off with a bang, literally. Before we are introduced to Itch himself, his Cornish neighbourhood trembles with an explosion created in his bedroom. This science mad teenager is left without any eyebrows but it is a fitting introduction to this rather awkward but enthusiastic boy who stands out from his class mates as being a bit different.
He is a bit of a loner, an oddball who doesn’t quite fit in at school but he has loyal friends in his younger sister Chloe and his cousin Jack (short for Jacqueline). Itch is short for Itchingham (not a name I’ve come across before!) and he is a passionate collector of all the elements of the Periodic Table. I enjoyed the descriptions of his eclectic collection, kept in his smoke blackened bedroom and sympathised with his poor mother. I was prepared to be annoyed with Itch because of his unlikely name but I soon warmed to him.
After an exciting start the book falters a little as there is a lot of scene setting and introductions of characters which goes into slightly more depth than I felt I needed. There is a taster of how Itch’s elements can wreak havoc, in a plot involving a class in the school greenhouse. The story really gets going when Itch acquires a mysterious rock which, it turns out, is a previously undiscovered element that can be used for great good (an amazing green source of power) or great evil. He is also warned to “trust no-one”.
Soon the pace picks up and Itch is involved in a race to protect the rock from evil villains who want it for the wealth and destruction it would bring. As the baddies say ”with terrifying consequences if the wrong people get there first” and the other replies “You forget. We are the wrong people”. The story now rattles along as Itch and his cousin Jack are pursued across the country getting steadily more ill as the radioactive element has its effect on them. Don’t read this if you’re sensitive about descriptions of being sick! The teenage element hunter soon has to rely on his scientific knowledge to get him out of several narrow escapes.
The science theme of the book is integral but very lightly threaded through the story – not enough to put anyone off if they are not a scientist but very interesting for those who are. Itch is a very endearing and resourceful character who wrestles with the decision of how best to put things right. His sister and cousin are less well drawn but Itch really takes centre stage. His poor well-meaning parents don’t get much of a look in (as it should be, if a teenager is involved in an adventure- no parents to take over and sort it out). Some of the villains are a bit ‘pantomime’ but once the story is rattling along merrily this doesn’t seem to matter.
The story ends with a major loose end leaving room for further adventures with Itch. I’d be happy to read more about this likeable teenager and his family. I can imagine this book would really appeal to boys the same age or a bit younger than the protagonist especially Alex Rider or Young James Bond fans, but I’ve also recommended it to my science enthusiast husband!
ITCH is published by Doubleday on 1st March 2012. To keep up to date with Itchingham’s adventures, you can follow him on Twitter @itchingham. You can also find Simon Mayo @simonmayo. Look out for more ITCH news coming soon!
The prehistoric cast of DANCE TOGETHER DINOSAURS by Jane Clarke and Lee Wildish, published earlier this month, are all clear winners!
The book has been given a fantastic 10/10 review on the ‘Books for children’ page of online forum Gransnet.co.uk:
It’s Strictly Come Dancing for dinosaurs as the prehistoric beasts get down and boogie to try to impress the judges. Great illustrations and a must for any dino (or indeed Strictly) lover. Went down an absolute treat with a bunch of 3 and 4 year-olds.
See the review here:
This sparkly, toe-tapping tale has already had fantastic responses from parents and kids alike – check out ‘Strictly fever’ sweeping the nation once again, picture book style:
When I was little, I used to LOVE the Worst Witch books by Jill Murphy, then came the amazing Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and old repeats of Bewitched. When I was a teenager, I moved on to Buffy the Vampire Slayer but I was always intrigued by Willow’s witchiness. I would say witches are the new vampires, but I think they’ve been there all along! Of course witches are often evil, croney old hags or beautiful nasty mistresses, but they are always powerful women and perhaps that’s what I love about them so much.
Blood Magic features one hell of a tough heroine. With her parents both dead, and more murder to come in her story, she’s got a lot of fighting to do to make her way through. She found her parents in a pool of blood, in their home – supposedly her father killed her mother and then himself but Silla is unwilling to believe this can be true. Before long she discovers her ability to do magic – a power that runs through her veins and can be performed simply by letting a little blood out… she’s not exactly a witch but is full of a natural magical power she’s never realised she had. But can Silla control her magic enough to discover the truth of her parents’ deaths and stop a dark intruder from stealing their bodies?
Blood Magic was a tense, pacey read which reminded me of reading a grown-up version of RL Stine’s Goosebumps books, with some steamy romance added in! Told from several perspectives, I loved the way we were gradually let in on a story that spanned over decades as well as the days it takes for Silla’s story to unfold. At school she is appropriately playing the part of a witch in a production of Macbeth and the macabre nature of the play oozes through into the rest of the plot.
Tess Gratton’s novel cranks up the dark side of magic, telling a story that’s dripping in blood. I highly recommend this book for all you YA readers out there! If you’re a blogger or reviewer and you’d like to be considered for a review copy, why not drop me an email on email@example.com before Monday the 9th May 2011.
For many of us at RHCB, this has been a long awited day… The book that everyone was talking about in house, the book that staff were missing tube stops reading, the book that made everyone double check that all the doors were bolted and the windows pinned… The book is Long Lankin.
Yesterday marked the official publication, and throughout the day we had the blog reviews rolling in. Check out some of the praise from reviews so far:
“chilling…The terror is as relentless as the ballad the story springs from.” The Observer
“It’s such an impressive debut. Every element is spot on – from the elegant prose, through the realistic portrayal of various aspects of family life, the three-dimensional characters and the occasional comic set-piece, to the supernatural horror underpinning it, which is absolutely chilling. Highly recommended.” Bookbag.co.uk
“This is an absolutely stunning debut novel which I can see appearing on multiple prize lists… The tension is almost unbearable and the atmosphere and setting genuinely spine-tingling. The prose is a joy to read but, be warned, once you pick it up you will not want to be disturbed or be able to put it down!” Joy Court, Librarian for ReadingZone
“Not only was Long Lankin one of those books I wanted to reread as soon as I’d finished it but I also wanted to thrust a copy into the hands of everyone I know and demand they read it… I can’t fault this one at all. A stunning debut.” I Want to Read That
“Long Lankin is definitely spooky, alarming and disturbing but it’s also brilliantly written with a real eye for historical detail and wonderful characterisation. Alongside the horror is a tale of friendship, family and love. I found this book to be a real treasure” My Favourite Books
“Long Lankin was a uniquely creepy read and one of the most original YA novels I have ever read. It is a stunning debut novel.” Overflowing Library
“Long Lankin is an incredibly unique, fascinating book that I feel really deserves to be picked up and read by a lot of people… 5 stars!” Cicely Loves Books
Last night also saw the launch event with Lindsey’s friends and family at the wonderful Golden Treasury bookshop in Southfields. Check back later for my blog on the event with pics of the fabulous cake!