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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

Sunday, 3 September 2017

CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEWS IN THE SOUTH WALES EVENING POST SEPT 2-3

This week my children's book reviews include an imaginative adventure about the origins of Wonder Woman, an animal picture book full of mazes, a scientific adventure and a heart rending tale of brotherly love and loss. 

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



BOOK OF THE WEEK

WONDER WOMAN: WARBRINGER BY LEIGH BARDUGO
YOUNG ADULT 12+
The first in a super hero series featuring Batman, Catwoman and Superman. Before Diana became the Wonder Woman legend, she was Princess of the Amazons. When Diana tries to save a mortal she may have doomed the world. A mix of Greek myth and DC comics, Diana becomes the heroine we want her to be, smart, strong and inspiring. Action packed adventure while staying true to the comic, this won't disappoint the fans.
ISBN 9780141387376 PB Penguin £7.99




ANIMAZES BY MELISSA CASTRILLON
CHILDREN 5+
Animals from all over the world make extraordinary journeys; through the air or sea, across deserts or over ice. In this sumptuously illustrated book young readers can follow the penguins, elephants, whales and wildebeest through the twisting, turning mazes to get to their final destination. Fascinating facts are dotted along the way to encourage young minds to explore and learn. A lovely, interactive gift for the curious minded.
ISBN 9781783708147 HB Big Picture Press £12.99




AL'S AWESOME SCIENCE: EGG-SPERIMENTS! BY JANE CLARKE
CHILDREN 6+
Al is fascinated by science and loves experimenting and inventing. His twin sister Lottie loves biology and nature. Together, they can get into a lot of unexpected trouble! Al wants to make a time machine to take him back to a time his dad was alive and his mum was happier. It would also help with getting him out of trouble! An engaging story for early readers with lively illustrations throughout by James Brown.
ISBN 9780993553738 PB Five Quills £6.99




MOONRISE BY SARAH CROSSAN
YOUNG ADULT 12+
Joe hasn't seen his brother for ten years because he is on death row. Now Ed's execution date has been set Joe is determined to spend as much time with him as he can. Written in poignant verse, this thought provoking novel is not afraid to ask the big questions. What value do you place on life? What can you forgive? How do you say goodbye? Perfect for fans of Malorie Blackman, David Almond and Patrick Ness.
ISBN 9781408867808 HB Bloomsbury £12.99

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEWS IN THE SOUTH WALES EVENING POST AUG 26-27

This week my children's book reviews include an adventure in the Russian revolution, an introduction to Picasso's drawings, a quirky and creepy middle grade mystery and a contemporary coming of age drama for social media lovers. 

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

BOOK OF THE WEEK

THE RASPUTIN DAGGER BY THERESA BRESLIN
YOUNG ADULT 12+
Russia 1916, a country on the brink of revolution. To escape her past Nina Ivanova must travel to St Petersburg and forge her own future. Stefan, an idealist, dreams of a new Russia. When their paths become entangled with a strange monk called Rasputin, will their love survive? Rich with historical detail this fascinating and epic tale will sweep you away whilst reminding us of the chaos and turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Riveting.
ISBN 9780552565257 PB Penguin £7.99



BIRDS & OTHER ANIMALS WITH PABLO PICASSO
PICTURE BOOK 1+
A stunning board book in which the very young can learn about animals through art while adults can appreciate the artistic genius of Picasso and his beautiful use of line. Rarely seen drawings are cleverly combined with simple, informative text for the very young. Inspired by poetry written by his friend, Guillaume Apollinaire, Picasso's drawings fill the pages with birds, horses, fish and owls. This little book is a wonderful introduction to this famous artist.
ISBN 9780714874128 HB Phaidon £6.95



A PLACE CALLED PERFECT BY HELENA DUGGAN
CHILDREN 9+
Violet has to move to the spooky town of Perfect when her dad is offered a job at the local optician there. When he disappears can Violet save her family with the help of an invisible boy and a lot of imagination? An unforgettably magical and creepy tale with an eye-catching and quirky heroine who refuses to see everything through rose tinted glasses. Perfect for fans of Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton.
ISBN 9781474924160 PB Usborne £6.99


LOLA OFFLINE BY NICOLA DOHERTY
YOUNG ADULT 12+
We've all regretted writing something on social media. But what if it went viral? When Delilah makes a huge mistake on Twitter and becomes the 'story' she changes her name to Lola and moves to Paris. Can she be a normal teenager or will the internet find her? A modern day tale of learning to be yourself and not to be defined by other people or their expectations. For fans of Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Perkins.
ISBN 9781510100510 PB Orion £7.99


Friday, 18 August 2017

CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEWS IN THE SOUTH WALES EVENING POST AUG 19-20

This week my children's book reviews include a picture book about a child with autism, a picture book remembering sunny days, a big book celebrating cars and an anthology by BAME writers.

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



BOOK OF THE WEEK

THROUGH THE EYES OF ME BY JON ROBERTS
PICTURE BOOK 3+
A sensitive and illuminating account of life as a child with autism, inspired by the author's daughter. As we get to know four year old Kya, we discover her likes and dislikes. The story also explains Kya's differences and beautiful quirks. The enchanting and playful pen and wash illustrations, by Hannah Rounding, compliment the eye catching and engaging text. A perfect introduction for children and adults, to help raise awareness and understanding about autism.
ISBN 9781912213009 PB Graffeg £6.99




SUN BY SAM USHER
PICTURE BOOK 3+
The perfect antidote to a rainy Summer. A boy and his granddad set off on a scorching adventure. It's hotter than broccoli soup! Eventually, they find the perfect spot for a picnic but some pirates have beaten them to it. Wondrous, atmospheric illustrations that pulsate with the fiery heat of a summer's day. It also encapsulates the lovely bond between granddad and grandson. Richly told, this will captivate kids imagination. For Quentin Blake fans.
ISBN 9781783707959 PB Templar £6.99



THE STORY OF THE CAR BY GILES CHAPMAN
CHILDREN 8+
A rip roaring ride through the history of the world's most iconic and popular cars of all time. From Benz's first motor wagon to the jet-propelled ThrustSSC. The slick and bold graphics describe the beauty of line and design of the car as it develops over the ages. How they effect our lives, as well as the developments of the car's inner workings. An ideal gift that can be shared by motoring enthusiasts of all ages.
ISBN 9781526360267 HB Wren & Rook £12.99



A CHANGE IS GONNA COME BY VARIOUS
YOUNG ADULT 13+
An anthology featuring BAME writers. A variety of genre's including historical, contemporary, magical realism and dystopia. A rallying call to empower young people to take charge of their future. The stories and poems address the themes of race, mental health and identity. Deeply thought provoking, this is a must for schools and book clubs to raise awareness and discussion. Includes a list of resources to help with the issues raised.
ISBN 9781847158390 PB Stripes £7.99