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Friday, 13 October 2017

SOUTH WALES EVENING POST CHILDRENS'S BOOK REVIEW OCT 14-15


This week my children's book reviews include an extraordinary futuristic adventure, a picture book about a grumpy bat, an enchanting new series for early readers and an alternative take on classic villains. Perfect for Halloween.

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


BOOK OF THE WEEK


THE EXTRAORDINARY COLOURS OF AUDEN DARE BY ZILLAH BETHELL
CHILDREN 9+
Moving to his deceased uncle's house Auden makes an extraordinary discovery. Under the garden shed he finds a human-like robot called Paragon, but what is he for? Will he help Auden see colour again? Paragon leads him on a thrilling journey of discovery set against a totalitarian society which is fighting over water. A captivating, futuristic adventure about friendship, family and hope. A wonderful gift and perfect for book club discussion. Artificial Intelligence meets ET.
ISBN 9781848126084 PB Piccadilly Press £6.99




I AM BAT BY MORAG HOOD
PICTURE BOOK 3+
A simple, charming story about a little bat who loves cherries but does not like sharing. When his cherries keep disappearing Bat must find out who is taking them. A pertinent story about the pros and con's of coveting and sharing you possessions. Despite all his failings, children will love this grumpy, little bat. The bold, luminous illustrations add layers and humour to the story about learning to share.
ISBN 9781509834617 HB Two Hoots £11.99




WITCH FOR A WEEK BY KAYE UMANSKY ILLUSTRATED BY ASHLEY KING
CHILDREN 7+
When Elsie offers to house-sit for the local witch, Magenta Sharp, she doesn't expect a talking raven, some very high-maintenance neighbours and a box of magic, with a sell by date. A spellbinding new series for young readers who will be absolutely charmed by the hilarious story of mishaps, mayhem and magic. This cauldron of endearing characters, adventure and laughs reminded me of Shrek but with witches!
ISBN 9781471160905 PB Simon & Schuster £6.99



BECAUSE YOU LOVE TO HATE ME EDITED BY AMERIIE
YOUNG ADULT 12+
An alternative anthology of short stories from the point of view of famous villains. Featuring the biggest names in young adult fiction, they have written their own spins on classics, inspired by well known BookTubers. Stories that have inspired them include King Arthur, The little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, amongst others. Thirteen morsels of wickedness to feast on for Halloween, if you dare?
ISBN 9781408882764 PB Bloomsbury £7.99


Friday, 6 October 2017

CHILDRENS BOOK REVIEW IN THE SOUTH WALES EVENING POST OCT 7-8


This week my children's book reviews include a classic middle grade adventure that will sweep you away, a children's encyclopaedia, a ghostly adventure for reluctant readers and a really scary romance for teens.

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



BOOK OF THE WEEK

NEVERMOOR:THE TRIALS OF MORRIGAN CROW BY JESSICA TOWNSEND
CHILDREN 9+
Just as cursed child, Morrigan Crow is about to die on her eleventh birthday, a stranger called Jupiter North whisks her away to a magical city called Nevermoor. But she must compete in dangerous trials to stay there. An extraordinary world with a colourful cast, this is a future modern classic that is a combination of Harry Potter meets Alice in Wonderland. You will find a friend in Morrigan, the bold; bright and audacious heroine.
ISBN 9781510104112 HB Hachette £12.99


DK CHILDREN'S ENCYCLOPEDIA BY DORLING KINDERSLEY
CHILDREN 7+
Packed with fascinating and essential facts on favourite subjects, including animals, history, science and much more, this is a book of wonder. Beautiful illustrations, maps and photos bring every page to life. Ever wonder what a planet is? The difference between frogs and toads? Why not dive straight into a journey of discovery. This is a book to inspire and inform and will absorb and engage children of all ages. The perfect gift to treasure.
ISBN 9780241283868 HB Dorling Kindersley £25



TOO GHOUL FOR SCHOOL BY BARRY HUTCHISON
CHILDREN 9+
An hilarious story full of ghosts, magic and outrageous battles. When a secret ghost battling organisation, The Spectre Collectors, recruit Denzel and his best friend Smithy, they are thrown into a spooky and exciting adventure. Tested with awesome weapons and ancient magic, can Denzel use his special abilities to fight a fearsome enemy? Engaging characters, cool gadgets and monsters galore, this is a great story for reluctant readers. Ghostbusters meets the Goonies.
ISBN 9780857639608 PB Nosy Crow £6.99


THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE BY STEPHANIE PERKINS
YOUNG ADULT 13+
Makani lives in Nebraska and is running from her past. Just as life starts to look up, with new friends and a romance with mysterious outsider Ollie, the pupils at her school start to be brutally murdered. This unsettling horror is a departure from this author's usual romance. In the same genre as Scream and I know What You Did Last Summer, it will chill you to the bone. Perfect for the lead up to Halloween.
ISBN 9781509859801 PB Macmillan £7.99

Saturday, 30 September 2017

  CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEWS IN THE SOUTH WALES EVENING POST SEPT 30- OCT 1


This week my children's book reviews include a return to a classic, The Little Princess, a hide and seek board book, a  fantasy prison break out adventure and a contemporary coming of age story suitable for dyslexic readers. 

Dyslexia Awareness Week is from Oct 2nd-8th

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




BOOK OF THE WEEK 



THE PRINCESS AND THE SUFFRAGETTE BY HOLLY WEBB
CHILDREN 8+
A sequel to one of my personal favourites and a much loved classic, The Little Princess. Lottie is a student at Miss Minchin's but feels abandoned by her father. Inspired by the suffragette movement she forges her own path while looking for her mother. A heart-warming adventure about friendship, girl power and standing up for what you believe in. In time for the 2018 commemoration of women getting the vote. An inspiring story for all little girls, everywhere.
ISBN 9781407170855 HB Scholastic £9.99


VEHICLES HIDE AND SNEAK BY BASTIEN CONTRAIRE
BOARD BOOK 1+
This unusual odd-one-out sturdy board book will engage youngsters as they try and find the object that doesn't fit in with the rest. Spot the ladybird hiding between the cars, an eagle flying amongst planes or an iron gliding between boats. Children will delight in the humorous misplaced objects while shaping their comparison abilities and visual awareness skills. Printed in turquoise and bright pink the illustrated graphic designs are stylish, simple and very entertaining.
ISBN 9780714875163 HB Phaidon £7.95


PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW BY RUTH LAUREN
CHILDREN 9+
A Machiavellian epic tale of sisterhood, valour and rebellion. Thirteen year old Valor must break her twin sister out of an impenetrable prison as she serves a life sentence for being wrongly accused of stealing a national treasure. But first Valor must break in and to do that she must assassinate the Prince. A Russian-inspired fantasy adventure with shades of The Count of Monte Cristo and Frozen. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell and Cathryn Constable.
ISBN 9781408872758 PB Bloomsbury £6.99


ROOK BY ANTHONY MCGOWAN
CHILDREN 12+
While brothers, Nicky and Kenny, try and help an injured rook, Nicky must deal with the school bully and his first love. When trouble escalates can Nicky turn his luck around? An insightful novel touching on peer intimidation, consequences and responsibilities. Dyslexia Awareness Week starts October 2nd. This brilliant drama, (reading age 8+ suitable for teens) is just one of many books by Barrington Stoke that help emergent and dyslexic readers unlock the love of reading.
ISBN 9781781127230 PB Barrington Stoke £7.99

Friday, 22 September 2017

CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEWS IN THE SOUTH WALES EVENING POST SEPT 23-24

This week my children's book reviews include a penguin treasure hunter, a new British Museum activity book, an out of this world adventure and a contemporary nail biting thriller. 

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



BOOK OF THE WEEK


MR. PENGUIN AND THE LOST TREASURE BY ALEX T. SMITH
CHILDRENS 6+
Adventurer Mr Penguin and his sidekick Colin (a bowler hat wearing, martial arts spider!) are employed to find missing treasure in the Museum of Extraordinary Objects. The quest involves secret codes, fighting ferocious beasts and eating fish finger sandwiches. A brilliant new series full of slapstick humour, adventure and action. Packed to the gills with quirky and irreverent illustrations in black, white and orange. Inspector Clouseau meets Indiana Jones. You definitely need to p-p-pick up this Penguin!
ISBN 9781444932065 HB Hodder £9.99




MIXED-UP MASTERPIECES: FUNNY FACES
CHILDREN 3+
A flip flap book using artefacts from the British Museum. Little ones can have hours of fun by trying to match up the correct faces on the split pages as well as make up their own faces. With two thousand combinations from an ancient Egyptian Mummy to a modern Mexican mask this will engage and educate while exploring different cultures from around the world. Includes a QR code for parents to learn more about the ancient artefacts featured.
ISBN 9781788000796 HB Nosy Crow £9.99




PLANET ADVENTURES : THE LOST MOON BY PAT ROPER & HUW AARON
CHILDRENS 6+
When a lost moon crashes into him, Earth must decide if he will travel across the Solar System to help his new friend get back home, or will he stay in his comfy orbit out of danger? An adventure of galactic proportions with spaced-out illustrations from Huw Aaron. Young readers will love the hilarious space jokes at the beginning of each chapter and the starring cast of characters. A truly out of this world adventure.
ISBN 9780993511837 PB Burst Publishing £5.99





GENUINE FRAUD BY E. LOCKHART
YOUNG ADULT 12+
A runaway heiress and a social chameleon form an intense friendship that leads to murder and betrayal. A noir thriller full of glamour and suspense that will keep twisting you up in knots as it skitters backwards and forwards in time. From the author of bestseller We Were Liars the two strong female characters will keep you guessing until the end. A story that explores how we identify ourselves and others. The Talented Mr Ripley meets Great Expectations.
ISBN 9781471406621 HB Hot Key £12.99








Sunday, 17 September 2017

CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEWS IN THE SOUTH WALES EVENING POST SEPT 16-17

This week my children's book reviews include a magical world of wizards and warriors, a picture book about tantrums, a book to help children who feel sad and a darkly enchanting fantasy. 

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


BOOK OF THE WEEK

THE WIZARDS OF ONCE BY CRESSIDA COWELL
CHILDREN 9+
In a time of magic a boy wizard, Xar and a girl warrior,Wish have been taught to hate each other but when their two worlds collide they change their fate forever. A wildly entertaining and funny adventure packed with Cowell's celebrated scratchy and emotive illustrations of giants, snow cats and sprites. It is a visual treat to snuggle up with or read together with an adult. For fans of How To Train Your Dragon.
ISBN 9781444936704 HB Hodder Childrens £12.99



TINY TANTRUM BY CAROLINE CROWE
PICTURE BOOK 2+
When Tiny has a tantrum it can be heard for miles around! Windows rattle, jelly quakes and birds fall out of trees. Can anyone persuade Tiny to eat her vegetables, share her toys and brush her teeth? Maybe a few hairy monsters can? Perfect for toddlers learning to deal with temper tantrums or struggling to share and make friends. Colourful illustrations by Ella Okstad just add to the fun and make it a great story to share.
ISBN 9781848694415 HB Little Tiger £10.99


NO WORRIES! BY LILY MURRAY
CHILDREN 7+
New experiences, such as starting school or changes at home, can be a scary and difficult time for some children and these brilliant books could ease some of those anxiety's. This series is full of accessible and simple mindful techniques to deal with daily stresses and worries. Select from colouring, puzzles or games to combat negative feeling. Full of quirky illustrations which gives the book a playful quality that is not intimidating.
ISBN 9781787410879 PB Studio Press £8.99



THE BEAST IS AN ANIMAL BY PETERNELLE VAN ARSDALE
YOUNG ADULT 13+
Alys was the only child to see the twin soul eaters before they decimated her village, leaving all the children orphaned. When Alys starts a new life why is she drawn to the forest? Is there truth in the stories of the mythical Beast? A truly scary debut that will chill you to the bone. Imagine Brothers Grimm visiting Salem to create an an isolated magical world in which you must face you're deepest fears.
ISBN 9781471160455 PB Simon & Schuster £ 7.99



Thursday, 14 September 2017

Interview with Peternelle Van Arsdale, Author of The Beast Is An Animal

My interview with  Peternelle Van Arsdale,  young adult author of The Beast is an Animal. 


The Beast Is an Animal is an eerie, compelling, wholly original tale of far-flung villages, dark woods, and creatures that hunt in the night. It’s also a deeply human story about a girl finding her way in a world that is ugly and beautiful, good and bad—and discovering the same within herself.




Where did the idea for The Beast Is an Animal come from?

The prologue is really where it all started—however the prologue was actually written for a very different novel. I’d planned the prologue as a way of explaining the backstory of two characters. When I wrote it in the style of a classic fairy tale, I found the voice that I should have been writing in all along. Then the rest of the novel flowed from there. In addition to the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm—which to me are far more about moral gray areas than they are about princesses—I was also inspired by the classic horror and gothic literature I inhaled as a child and young adult (particularly Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre)




 Is it true you were, in part, inspired by Wales for your book? 
The mood and landscape were most definitely inspired by Wales. There is a particular scene in the novel that is directly drawn from my experience of the Welsh coastline. As a child I was obsessed with Wales—or an idea I had of it. I imagined rocky, misty, romantic coastlines, and that entranced me. When I was able to travel to Wales while I was working on The Beast Is an Animal, I discovered that it was all that and more. In coming up with the character names and places for the novel, I decided to choose Welsh names and words. So the village of farmers is named Gwenith, the village of shepherds is named Defaid, and the village that fishes is named Pysgod. That was one of my little nods of gratitude to beautiful Wales and the wonderfully welcoming Welsh people I met when I traveled there.





Which character in your book do you most identify with and why?*
That would have to be Alys, my protagonist. Alys desperately wants to be good and right, and she’s desperately afraid that she’s bad and wrong. I deeply empathize with that.


Your book is a very visual and I just read that the film rights have been snapped up by Amazon Studios. How do you feel about it becoming a film or series?
I’m thrilled and grateful, especially since the writing-directing team, Bert & Bertie, who’ve envisioned it as a film are so wonderfully creative and embracing of the moral complexity that I feel is such an essential aspect of the novel. After I spoke with them I felt like my novel was being granted an entirely new way of communicating itself—a way that I could never have dreamed of. I’m so excited to see what they do with it.


As an editor yourself and working in the publishing industry did your knowledge help or hinder you writing your debut novel? Or did it make it scarier?
In the writing, being an editor certainly has helped me. Although writing a novel is a very different thing from editing one, I edit myself very closely. There isn’t a sentence I write that I don’t also consider as an editor, and I try to be ruthless with myself. In the publishing process, my experience as an editor also helps--I know generally how the process works, so it’s not quite such a mystery to me. But as you say, it can also be scary, because I know how much can go wrong. As lucky as I feel, I don’t take anything for granted.






Working with mostly adult novels as an editor why did you want to write for the young adult market?*
That audience and time of life inspire me most—at least for the time being. I’m moved by the age when we are beginning to have adult concerns but still have the vulnerability to admit that we have no idea what we’re doing, who we are, and what’s right.

Did you pick up any tips or good advice from the authors you have previously worked with?
Oh, that’s such an interesting question. I absorbed a great deal. I’ve worked with authors with tremendous work ethics, who held down full-time jobs and took care of families while also writing books. So that’s certainly inspiring. And I’ve also learned to take criticism with grace. That is something all authors have to be able to do.

What is a typical writing day for you?
There was really no such thing as a typical day while I was writing The Beast Is an Animal. I worked on it over a number of years and in fits and starts while I worked on other authors’ books. Working on my second novel has been a very different experience—I had a deadline and I was more systematic. I read, took notes, and germinated for some months, then I spent a few months working full days on developing an outline. Then once I had the outline, I worked every day writing the novel (I gave myself daily word count goals) until I had a complete draft. That was an exhausting luxury—to be able to work with such focus.



Who is your favourite literary hero or heroine?
Will from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. I would like to have chosen a female character, but Will is simply the character who moves me more than any other. He breaks my heart.





Which is your favourite bookshop?
Oh, that’s difficult. There are many in New York City that I visit and buy from. I have a special place in my heart for McNally Jackson in Manhattan, because they hosted my launch event for The Beast Is an Animal. It’s also a lovely bookstore. I’ve walked in telling myself that I’m only allowed to look, but the staff there write such brilliant recommendations that I inevitably walk out with a purchase.



What is your favourite quote?
Oh, that’s too easy. “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum”, of course. Margaret Atwood is a goddess among mortals.


Many thanks to Peternelle for such a great interview. For more information on Peternelle and her books visit her website on www.peternellevanarsdale.com







Friday, 8 September 2017

CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEWS IN THE SOUTH WALES EVENING POST SEPT 8-9

This week my children's book reviews include a heart-warming football adventure, a bird spotting activity book, a tale of a mean cat for young readers and a terrifying alien adventure for young adults. 

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



BOOK OF THE WEEK


KICK BY MITCH JOHNSON
CHILDRENS 9+
Bud has the same hopes and dreams as any twelve year old but he lives in the slums of Jakarta working in a sweat shop. When Bud is forced to steal, he faces losing everything. A story of the love of football and how it can highlight the stark differences between rich and poor. An exciting debut full of action and excitement whilst raising social awareness about global issues, such as consumerism. A must for football fans.
ISBN 9781474928151 PB Usborne £6.99



DREAD CAT BY MICHAEL ROSEN
CHILDREN 5+
Dread cat is fed up trying to catch mice so decides to giving up the chase and feed them cheese instead! Or is it a cunning plan? Bounding with sharply observed wit and wisdom the tension racks up slowly through the story until the climactic funny ending. Full of Disney style illustrations by Nicola O'Bryne, this is purrfect for early readers and has added extras including jokes and a game hiding in the jacket flaps.
ISBN 9781781125885 PB Barrington Stoke £6.99




THE BIG BIRD SPOT BY MATT SEWELL
CHILDREN 6+
This seek-and-find guide is cleverly designed to inspire children to birdwatch in the real world as well as on the page. Richly illustrated double-page spreads cover a range of habitats with a native bird hidden in every scene. Travel the world from jungle to desert, woodland to ocean, to see if you can spot the birds hiding there. It's harder than you think! Children will spend hours pouring over the intricate details and vibrant colours.
ISBN 9781843653264 HB Pavilion £9.99





I AM TRAITOR BY SIF SIGMARSDOTTIR
YOUNG ADULT 12+
One teenager's fight against extra terrestrial invasion. How much will Amy sacrifice to save the teenage population from a grim dystopian future? Her freedom? Her chance at love? Can Amy really trust the Resistance and allow herself to be 'taken' on a spaceship in order to save the planet? A tense and exciting adventure that is a romantic twist on War of the Worlds. Imaginative and chilling. For fans of Michael Grant, Suzanne Collins and Michael Muchamore.
ISBN 9781444934472 PB Hodder Childrens £7.99