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Friday, 18 May 2018

SOUTH WALES EVENING POST CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW MAY 19-20 TH

This week my children's book reviews include a thrilling cycling adventure, a board book about all different types of boats, a kids introduction to vegetarianism and a coming of  age drama dealing with domestic abuse. 

Also in the Weekend section of The South Wales Evening Post.

Enjoy!


BOOK OF THE WEEK

CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS BY DAVID BRAYLEY
YOUNG ADULT 12+
Professional road cyclist Daniel must remember what inspired his love for racing if he want's to succeed in the toughest race of his career. This adventure is interwoven with family loyalty, betrayal and a mystery surrounding legendary racer Fausto Coppi. Peppered with sporting facts it transports us through the beautiful Gower Peninsula to Italy as we follow Daniel's quest. This is perfect for enthusiasts of all ages as it captures the agony and ecstasy of cycling.
ISBN 9780993510199 PB Scratching Shed £7.99


BOARD BOOK 3+


BOATS ARE BUSY BY SARA GILLINGHAM 

An illuminating board book identifying different types of boats from oil tankers to cruise ships. Young children will love the bright primary colours and strong shapes capturing seafaring life. It is also fascinating to learn how boats communicate with each other. Different nautical flags show a variety of messages such as when fishing nets are in the water or when dangerous cargo is on board. A brilliant, informative book for little sailors and sea lovers alike.
ISBN 9780714876719 HB Phaidon £7.95

CHILDREN 9+



LIVING ON THE VEG BY CLIVE GIFFORD & JACQUELINE MELDRUM

It's National Vegetarian Week and this is a fun accessible guide for children on how to live a vegetarian life. It's full of tips, facts and delicious recipes that clearly outline what it means to live without eating meat and how to do it healthily. It explores different terms such as pescetarian and vegan, while looking at animal welfare, pollution and key information about nutrition. The jazzy layout and bullet point facts make it easily digestible.
ISBN 9781526306098978 HB Wayland Books £12.99

YOUNG ADULT 12+


ME MAM. ME DAD. ME. BY MALCOLM DUFFY

Danny's Mam has a new boyfriend and life seems good until cracks start to show. This tense thriller tackles issues of domestic violence which brings to light a subject that is too often hidden away. At it's heart is a teenager's love for his mother and the lengths he will go to protect her. The story doesn't pull its punches but is liberally laced with hope and humour which makes it a memorable and touching read.
ISBN 9781786697646 HB Zephyr £10.99

Friday, 11 May 2018

SOUTH WALES EVENING POST CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW MAY 12-13 TH

This week my children's book reviews include a handsome hungry fox, a mysterious unicorn, a pioneer of fashion design and an inspiring coming of age story for teenagers. 

Also in the Weekend section of The South Wales Evening Post.

Enjoy!


BOOK OF THE WEEK 


GASPARD THE FOX BY ZEB SOANES AND JAMES MAYHEW
PICTURE BOOK 4+
Gaspard the Fox is searching for his supper one Summer's evening along the local canal and beyond. Finty a friendly dog and a posh cat called Peter helps him on his quest in this charming tale based on the author's adopted urban fox. The colourful and masterly illustrations bring Gaspard's urban adventure to life, and all young readers are destined to fall for this charming, handsome fox. A modern day classic and a delight to read aloud.
ISBN 9781912213542 HB Graffeg £12.99



SOPHIE JOHNSON: UNICORN EXPERT BY MORAG HOOD & ELLA OKSTAD
PICTURE BOOK 4+
Sophie thinks she is a unicorn expert. But is she? Sophie dresses up her toys and pets as unicorns and teaches them to hunt for food, tidy up and look out for danger. Strange she doesn't notice when a real unicorn visits her house! The vivacious and animated illustrations full of detail add to the little girl's obliviousness to the presence of her magical friend. For fans of A Tiger Who Came to Tea.
ISBN 9781471145629 PB Simon & Schuster £6.99



ROSE'S DRESS OF DREAMS BY KATHERINE WOODFINE & KATE PANKHURST
CHILDREN 7+
Young Rose dreams of sewing beautiful dresses for the ladies of Paris. A chance encounter offers her the perfect opportunity to create a dress for royalty. This inspiring tale is based on the life of Rose Bertin, the woman who created haute-couture at the court of Marie Antoinette. The story is embroidered with stunning descriptions of the dresses, and the illustrations are tailor-made to bring this charming tale to life. Perfectly designed for early readers.
ISBN 978178112768 PB Barrington Stoke £6.99



THE EARTH MY BUTT, AND OTHER BIG ROUND THINGS BY CAROLYN MACKLER
YOUNG ADULT 14+
Fifteen-year-old Virginia feels like a fat, awkward outsider in her perfect family especially next to her older brother who she idolises. When Virginia is forced to see him in a harsher reality, she must reassess her own life and how she really would like people to treat her. A hilarious, relevant and astute tale about the ups and downs of growing up, family life and friendship. An emboldening story about girl power and having self-confidence.
ISBN 9781408897072 PB Bloomsbury £7.99

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Blog Tour for Night of the Party by Tracey Mathias



DRAWING ON BOOKS BLOG TOUR :

NIGHT OF THE PARTY

BY TRACEY MATHIAS




I INTERVIEWED TRACEY ABOUT HER NOVEL NIGHT OF THE PARTY AND HER LIFE AS AN AUTHOR 


NIGHT OF THE PARTY is a political thriller and love story for teens, set in a dystopian, near-future England that’s governed by a hard right, ultra nationalist party.



Was there any particular incident during the build up to or during Brexit that inspired the politics in Night of the Party?

There wasn't a single specific incident; it was more a matter of picking up on general political trends at the time when I was developing the characters and plot of the novel, in late 2014 and early 2015. This was in the run up to the General Election of 2015 when UKIP was becoming increasingly vocal, picking up support in the polls, and even winning a couple of Parliamentary seats as the result of defections from the Eurosceptic wing of the Tory party. The Party in the book really resulted from imagining the most extreme version of that kind of nationalist, anti-immigration agenda that I could. The dystopian politics of the novel were fully formed, and most of the details worked out, before I'd even heard the word Brexit, and long before the EU referendum. What's been eerie has been to see how aspects of that world have been mirrored in real life in the last couple of years; most recently, of course, with the Windrush scandal.

What's your favourite part of Night of the Party? 

I like the Sophie scenes, in both Ash and Zara's memories. Partly because they reach back to a happier time that's less shadowed by both grief and danger, partly because Sophie is probably my favourite character in the book. And the sense of light and lightness in those scenes also made them enjoyable to write. 

Which character do you most identify with?

Ash (though I can't do maths or run to save my life). But I was rather like him as a teenager: academically ambitious, rather serious, very focussed on getting to Uni, a bit too well behaved. And we share a defining experience, although the details are very different: I had also lost a sister, and was my parents' only surviving child.



Do you hope to inspire teens to become more engaged in politics?

It's obviously a key theme of the book that politics has concrete effects on individual lives. So I would certainly hope that readers would be prompted to think about how politics affects them and others. In particular the novel raises issues surrounding people's rights to move across borders, and the status and treatment of people who find themselves (for whatever reason) living somewhere other than where they were born – questions which have a sharp and immediate relevance now in the wake of political developments that I didn't predict when I started to write: the hostile environment, the Windrush scandal, and the impact of Brexit on the status of EU citizens in the UK.


Why did you want to become a writer and has anything surprised you about being a professional writer that you didn't expect? 

As a child I was a bookworm and a daydreamer; I scribbled stories, and typed them on my Dad's heavy typewriter (on pink paper, for some reason that I can't now remember). Throughout my childhood, I dreamed of being a writer when I grew up, then I stopped writing when I started doing English A level, cowed by the brilliance of what I was reading. But the ambition to write never entirely went away, and when my youngest daughter started school I happened to come up with an idea for a story for children – which became my first fantasy novel. I suppose one thing that's surprised me about being a professional writer is how full of ups and downs the journey has been. That first novel was published in Germany in 2009 but it's taken many setbacks and another nine years to get to my UK debut.  

What is a typical writing day for you? 

I'm not sure there is such a thing...! But I'm definitely better in the mornings than the afternoons; if I don't get some work done before midday the day is likely to be a write off (sorry, I didn't intend that pun but I'm letting it stand.). Sometimes I work at home: early, at my desk, later, on the sofa; sometimes at the kitchen table, sometimes in the garden. But I also sometimes meet up with other writers and work alongside them for solidarity and company.

Are you working on your next book and if so can we have a sneaky clue what it's about?

It's at a VERY early stage: I have a couple of characters and a setting in my head, and a very loose sketch of the plot, and that's about all! It will have some things in common with Night of the Party: it will be set in a world that resembles but isn't quite real life, and will look at how individual lives are changed by the bigger context in which they exist.

Who is your favourite literary hero or heroine? 

Too many to choose from! But reading Middlemarch for the first time at eighteen was one of the great moments of my life and I still feel a strong affinity with Dorothea Brooke (also too serious and well behaved).


Which is your favourite bookshop? 

My all-time favourite bookshop has gone now. It was an indie at the top of the street where I live. The interior was long and narrow, and they'd added a gallery half way up the wall to increase the shelf space. It was a shop run for and by book lovers; on at least one occasion I went in to find the assistants reading out loud to one another from their latest favourite book. It was driven out of business when one of the chains opened in the local shopping centre. Nothing has quite replaced that for me, though I do enjoy the London Review of Books shop in Bloomsbury. It has such a comprehensive range of books that it always makes me feel totally under-read, but the café has brilliant cakes which help to compensate for the sense of literary inadequacy...


What's your favourite quote?

Again, too many to choose from. But I do love the lines from Little Gidding that I used in Night of the Party:



We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we first started.


Thank you to Tracey and Scholastic for inviting me to be part of the blog tour. You can follow them on #NightoftheParty #StopTheParty @traceymathias @scholasticuk

About : Tracey Matthias is writer-in-residence at the DaCapo Music Foundation. She previously taught at a sixth form college and worked for the British Council on international development projects. Political thriller,

Friday, 4 May 2018

SOUTH WALES EVENING POST CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW MAY 5-6 TH


This week my children's book reviews include a magical dolphin adventure, a little owl looking for a friend, a celebration of unusual words and a chilling murder mystery. 

Also in the Weekend section of The South Wales Evening Post.

Enjoy!


BOOK OF THE WEEK


SONG OF THE DOLPHIN BOY BY ELIZABETH LAIRD
CHILDREN 8+
Finn has always felt different in the tiny fishing village of Stromhead. Why is he told to stay away from the sea? When he accidentally swims with dolphins, he finds he has a special connection with them. But what can he do when his new friends are in danger from plastic and rubbish in the water? An illustrated magical eco-adventure full of friendship and excitement that kids can enjoy while learning an important environmental message.
ISBN 9781509828234 PB Macmillan £6.99


A T-WIT FOR A T-WOO BY CHARLIE FARLEY & LAYN MARLOW
PICTURE BOOK 4+
Little owl Twoo sets off on a brave quest through the night to find a true friend to sing with him. On his journey, he meets deer, bats and badgers, and even a hungry fox. Twoo discovers on his adventure that when you believe in yourself, anything is possible. The twilight illustrations are captivating alongside the lyrical rhyming text as the owl searches for his perfect companion. An adorable story that is ideal for bedtime reading.
ISBN 9781408346495 HB Orchard £12.99


WHAT A WONDERFUL WORD BY NICOLA EDWARDS & LUISA URIBE
CHILDREN 8+
This thoughtfully illustrated book celebrates the magic of language. It is a collection of words that have no direct one-word translation and are unique to particular countries. In Finnish 'poronkusema' means the distance a reindeer can walk before needing the toilet! However, you might not need a translation for the Welsh word Hiraeth meaning a nostalgic longing for the homeland or past. A book of linguistic curiosities ideal to give to a child or adult.
ISBN 9781848576452 360 Degrees HB £12.99




YOUR TURN TO DIE BY SUE WALLMAN
YOUNG ADULT 13+
While Leah is on a family holiday, their fun is derailed by new girl Tatum and the discovery of sixty-year-old remains of a teenage girl in the garden. Strange accidents and unexplained events begin to happen. Also what is causing her cousin Poppy's illness? Question marks hang over the cast of characters making it a modern-day whodunnit worthy of Agatha Christie. A chilling thriller with an almighty twist at the end that you won't be prepared for.
ISBN 9781407181585 PB Scholastic £7.99


Friday, 27 April 2018

SOUTH WALES EVENING POST CHILDREN S BOOK REVIEW APRIL 28-29

This week my children's book reviews include a re-imagining of a Russian folktale, a grumpy crocodile who wants to go home, a boy with an unusual super power and a mystery inspired by Shakespeare's Tempest.


Also in the Weekend section of The South Wales Evening Post.


Enjoy!




BOOK OF THE WEEK

THE HOUSE WITH CHICKEN LEGS BY SOPHIE ANDERSON
CHILDREN 9+
An entrancing re-imagining of the Russian fairytale of Baba Yaga. Marinka's house has chicken legs and without warning can move to a new destination. What can Marinka do if she doesn't want to leave her new friend? The only other people she meets are the dead while helping her grandmother to guide them to the other side. Can she change her destiny? A deliciously macabre world with a courageous and rebellious heroine at its centre.
ISBN 9781474940665 PB Usborne £6.99

PICTURE BOOK 3+




WHAT'S NEXT DOOR? BY NICOLA O'BYRNE
PICTURE BOOK 3+
Help cranky crocodile; Carter find his way home in this award-winning interactive picture book. These brilliantly designed pages encourage children to take part in the story from rubbing Carter's tummy or shaking the book to remove snow. Kids will also love helping create doors in the pages and use their imagination to guide the crocodile through new landscapes. Will he ever escape? Bright and engaging illustrations and witty text makes it perfect for sharing.
ISBN 9780857638335 PB Nosy Crow £6.99


MIDDLE GRADE 8-12  YEARS



IGUANA BOY SAVES THE WORLD WITH A TRIPLE CHEESE PIZZA BY JAMES BISHOP
CHILDREN 8+
Dylan is desperate for a superpower but when he eventually get's one he is disappointed. All he can do is talk to Iguanas! When all the other superheroes are kidnapped can he save the world from the supervillain, The Platypus Kid with his chatty iguanas? He might need a pizza as well. An anarchic, hilarious adventure with comical illustrations by Rikin Parekh. Perfect for fans of Tom Gates and Kid Normal.
ISBN 9781444939347 PB Hodder £6.99


YOUNG ADULT 12+



STORM-WAKE BY LUCY CHRISTOPHER
YOUNG ADULT 14+
Moss lives on a mysterious island with only her father and magical flowers for company. When two strange boys wash up onshore Moss must open her eyes to the truth about her isolated world. Inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest this magical adventure will cast it's spell over you as you wonder what is real and what is not. The lyrical text give it a mythical dreamy feel, perfect to lose yourself in.
ISBN 9781906427733 PB Chicken House £7.99