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Friday, 15 November 2019

SOUTH WALES EVENING POST CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW NOV 16-17 2019

This week my children's book reviews include a mysterious middle grade adventure, an introduction to woodland life for the very young, an inspiring compilation of heroes or villains for middle grade readers and a dark fairy tale fantasy for teens. 


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



BOOK OF THE WEEK 

INVISIBLE IN A BRIGHT LIGHT BY SALLY GARDNER
CHILDREN 9+
In 1870 Celeste wakes up in the Royal Opera House to find everyone thinks she's someone else. To discover the truth and save those she loves, Celeste must play a dangerous game called the Reckoning. A dark and surreal fairy tale which reveals it's secrets one by one. Gorgeous and atmospheric descriptions of backstage bring the mystery and colourful cast to life. For fans of Amy Wilson and Abi Elphinstone.
Zephyr Books HB £10.99



GOODNIGHT FOREST BY CARMEN SALDANA & BECKY DAVIES
BOARD BOOK 1+
Peep through the forest in the soft dawn of light. Young children will be fascinated by how all the different animals and birds sleep and live. A fox hole is called a den. Owls hunt at night. Deers take short naps! Tiptoe through the undergrowth and explore the treetops in this beautifully illustrated board book with peep-through pages. Fun facts and rhyming text will delight little ones just before bedtime. Also available is Goodnight Ocean.
Little Tiger HB £7.99



EPIC TALES OF TRIUMPH AND ADVENTURE BY SIMON CHESHIRE & FATTI BURKE
CHILDREN 9+
Meet 66 exceptionally brave and inspiring men and women. Children will be fascinated by epic tales and triumphs and discoveries of heroes and villains. Dive into unexplored oceans with Jacques Piccard or sail them with pirate Anne Bonny. Climb Mount Everest with Junko Tabei or become a spy with Marthe Cnockaert. The double spreads with bold illustrations on each historical figure are perfect for dipping into. A vast collection to explore for little adventurers.
Bloomsbury HB £12.99



PET BY AKWAEKE EMEZI
YOUNG ADULT 12+
When Jam discovers a horned creature called Pet emerging from her mother's painting, she must help it chase away a monster in her best friend's house. A dark and lyrical modern-day fairytale about friendship and bravery. I loved the diverse cast of characters and the imaginative world where all is not what it appears. It also deals with sensitive and hard-hitting subjects about facing fears and the abuse of power. Thought-provoking and profound.
Faber PB £7.99

Friday, 8 November 2019

SOUTH WALES EVENING POST CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW NOV 9-10 2019

This week my children's book reviews include for Rememberance Sunday an inspiring second world war drama and a stirring illustrated middle grade novel about the importance of truth set in the First World War. My column also includes a picture book about learning to cope with bereavement, and lastly for the holidays a return to the Shadowhunters world with a fan favourite. 


The two World War books are perfect to learn about that period and start a conversation in class. They are also inspiring and insightful.

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



BOOK OF THE WEEK

THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ BY HEATHER MORRIS
YOUNG ADULT 12+
1942 Lale is imprisoned in Auschwitz just because he is Jewish. His job is tattooing numbers of fellow victims. When he meets Gita it's love at first sight. Will they survive the horror of war? Based on real events, this pulsates with courage, friendship and daring. A deeply moving and inspiring story that should be a must for every school. Information and points of discussion are in the back. A story never to be forgotten.
Hot Key Books PB £7.99




WAITING FOR WOLF BY SANDRA DIECKMANN
PICTURE BOOK 4+
Fox and Wolf spend a perfect day together, talking, laughing, playing and watching stars. One day Wolf is gone. How will Fox cope? A stunningly illustrated and lyrical story about friendship, loss and grief. A perfect story to start a discussion with children about learning to cope with bereavement by remembering treasured memories. The magical illustrations capture the emotion of the scenes from happy to sad and ends with a positive heartwarming message.
HB Hodder £12.99



CAPTAIN ROSALIE BY TIMOTHEE DE FOMBELLE & ISABELLE ARSENAULT
CHILDREN 8+
Rosalie is five, and she is on a secret mission to learn to read. Her father is at war, and her mother reads his letters to her until one day she stops. Can Rosalie find out the truth? A moving story that reveals the tragedy of war through a child's eyes. The story is complemented by the atmospheric ink drawings and flashes of Rosalie's red hair against the darkness. It illustrates the importance of truth and togetherness and a pertinent conversation starter about Remembrance Day.
Walker Books PB £6.99



THE RED SCROLLS OF MAGIC BY CASSANDRA CLARE & WESLEY CHU
YOUNG ADULT 12+
A welcome return to the Shadowhunters world with fan favourite High Warlock Magnus Bane in the lead role. Magnus is on holiday with his boyfriend, Alex Lightwood. But before long they are chasing the evil leader of a demon-worshipping cult. A fun romp through the most glamorous European cities plus ladles of adventure, magic and romance. This is suitable for fans and newcomers who will love the diverse cast and sense of loyalty and honour at its heart.
Simon & Schuster PB £7.99


Friday, 1 November 2019

SOUTH WALES EVENING POST CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW NOVE 2-3 2019

This week my children's book reviews include a beautiful middle grade fantasy inspired by Nordic Fairytales, a picture book about a magical dinosaur, a middle grade book for the seasons by a favourite author and a mythical adventure for teens.




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



BOOK OF THE WEEK

NORTH CHILD BY EDITH PATTOU
CHILDRENS 9+
An irresistible winters tale based on Scandinavian fairy tales and Beauty and The Beast. An epic adventure that takes Rose to an enchanted snowbound castle on the back of a white bear. Who is the stranger that appears to her nightly? The cast of magical characters and the stunning world building is spellbinding. A romantic adventure of true friendship that will sweep you off your feet. For fans of Phillip Pullman and Sophie Anderson.
PB Usborne Publishing £7.99


THE GIRL AND THE DINOSAUR BY HOLLIE HUGHES & SARAH MASSINI
PICTURE BOOK 4+
Marianne finds a dinosaur skeleton on the beach when she is digging in the sand. She calls it Bony. When Bony magically comes to life, they go on a whimsical adventure meeting fairies, unicorns and giants. An engaging story about the power of dreams and the belief anything is possible. The evocative illustrations capture the seaside and fantastical elements perfectly. It will take children on an enchanting journey before bedtime.
HB Bloomsbury £10.99



STORIES FOR EVERY SEASON BY ENID BLYTON
CHILDREN 8+
A beautiful treasury of stories for every season by one of the world's best-loved storytellers. Bursting with charming full -colour illustrations by Becky Cameron throughout this is perfect for reading aloud or for young readers. Step into a world of magic and nature where elfin tailors make clothes from autumn leaves or meet a fairy in a seashell. Divided into Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter this is a lovely gift for all occasions throughout the year.
Hodder HB £19.99



DEEPLIGHT BY FRANCES HARDINGE
YOUNG ADULT 12+
Fourteen-year-old street urchins Hark and his best friend Jelt dive under the sea for the relics of long-dead gods to sell. When the sea tries to claim Jelt Hark will do anything to save him. But what must he sacrifice? A thrilling adventure in an extraordinarily imagined world about friendship, power and storytelling. Submerge yourself in this underwater mythical world of Gods. Perfect for fans of Laini Taylor and Leigh Bardugo.
Macmillan HB £12.99




Saturday, 26 October 2019

SOUTH WALES EVENING POST CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW OCT 26-27 2019

This week my spooky children's book reviews include an imaginary friend who becomes real, a scarily good Halloween party, a young witch off to witch school and an autumnal graphic novel set in a pumpkin patch. 


Fangtastic books to enjoy over Halloween for all ages. 



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




BOOK OF THE WEEK

SKELETON KEYS: THE UNIMAGINARY FRIEND BY GUY BASS & PETE WILLIAMSON
CHILDREN 9+
Ben can't believe his imaginary friend the Gorblimey has become unimaginable. The narrator of this scary tale, Skeleton Keys is convinced Gorblimey is not kind and loyal but dangerous and needs banishing into the void of Oblivian. Can Ben save his friend? Prepare for monsters, pirates and weird occurrences in an even stranger tale. It is crawling with inky illustrations that will feed children's imagination to create their own imaginary friend. Creepily good for Halloween.
Stripes PB £6.99



THERE'S A TROLL ON MY TOILET BY CATHERINE JACOB & MIKE BYRNE
PICTURE BOOK 4+
In a spooky house, a Halloween party is in full swing, and all the freaky guests are having a frightfully good time! Children will love exploring each room, and it's dastardly occupants, but not all is what it seems. Spooktacularly good to read out loud for Halloween with rhyming and repeating text. The bold and fun illustrations are hilarious. Watch out for the witch, the mummy, the ghosts and especially the smelly troll on the toilet!
PB Scholastic £6.99



GRACE ELLA: WITCH CAMP BY SHARON MARIE JONES
CHILDREN 7+
Nine-year-old new witch Grace-Ella is nervous and excited to go to Witch Camp with her cat Mr Whiskins. When her new friend Dilys's broomstick flying goes wrong can Grace-Ella find a way to help her? What's in the deep, dark wood? This enchanting sequel full of friendship and magic is perfect for young readers and sprinkled with charming illustrations. Children will love the camaraderie and high jinks. For fans of The Worst Witch.
Firefly PB £5.99



PUMPKIN HEADS BY RAINBOW ROWELL & FAITH ERIN HICKS
YOUNG ADULT 12+
A new graphic novel bursting with autumnal colours. Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends. Every Autumn they work together at the best pumpkin patch in Nebraska.But this Halloween it is their last season together before leaving school. Deja is determined she and Josiah are going to go out with a bang! A heartwarming, funny story about missed connections with two endearing leads. Curl up with a pumpkin spice latte to enjoy this sweet romance over Halloween. 
PB Macmillan £9.99


Friday, 18 October 2019

SOUTH WALES EVENING POST CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW OCT 19-20 2019

This week my children's book reviews include a riveting middle grade Russian inspired quest, a picture book about a magical Halloween pumpkin, an exploration of the human body for little scientists and a dystopian adventure with a ecological message for middle grade.



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



BOOK OF THE WEEK

THE TZAR'S CURIOUS RUNAWAYS BY ROBIN SCOTT-ELLIOT
CHILDREN 9+
In Eighteenth-century Russia, Katinka a dazzling ballerina with a hunched back is part of Peter the Great's Circus of Curiosities. But when the Tzar dies, she and her extraordinary friends must flee for their lives from the Winter Palace to find a new home. A vivid and daring quest that is full of myth and mystery. Children will love Katinka, an inspiring heroine full of courage and loyalty. For fans of Katherine Rundell and Sophie Anderson.
Everything With Words PB £8.99



CHRISTOPHER PUMPKIN BY SUE HENDRA & PAUL LINNET & NICK FROST
PICTURE BOOK 4+
When a witch magicks her Halloween pumpkins into life for the scariest Halloween party ever, she does not expect any of them to be nice!But Christopher Pumpkin wants to make fairy cakes and hang bunting not cobwebs and cook curried slugs! Can he find a way to scare everyone and stay true to himself? Bold, funny illustrations will delight children and encourage them to blaze their own trail. Perfect for reading out loud at Halloween.
Hodder PB £6.99




ANATOMICUM BY DR JENNIFER Z PAXTON & KATY WIEDEMANN
CHILDREN 9+
Have you ever wondered what the inside of your body looks like? Children will be transported right around the human body through amazing illustrations that show every vivid detail as never before. This large-format book demonstrates the workings of the body from the muscles to the delicate complexities of the brain. A fascinating and intriguing look at the human body, it's structure and how it all fits together. The perfect present for budding doctors, scientists, biologists and artists.
Big Picture Press HB £25



MOTHER TONGUE BY PATRICIA FORDE
CHILDREN 10+
After global warming, the new order wants to silence speech forever. Letta is a wordsmith and rebel, teaching children language, music and art. But when babies start to go missing, she must find a way to save them. This taut dystopian thriller has a strong environmental message at its heart. It also questions the balance between political power and corruption. This vivid world and courageous heroine will enthral readers and is ideal for book clubs.
PB Little Island £7.99

Thursday, 17 October 2019

BOOK BLOG TOUR FOR MOTHER TONGUE BY PATRICIA FORDE



MY BOOK BLOG FOR MOTHER TONGUE BY PATRICIA FORDE ABOUT WORLD BUILDING



MOTHER TONGUE SYNOPSIS

After global warming came the Melting. Then came Ark.

The new dictator of Ark wants to silence speech for ever. But Letta is the wordsmith, tasked with keeping words alive. Out in the woods, she and the rebels secretly teach children language, music and art.
Now there are rumours that babies are going missing. When Letta makes a horrifying discovery, she has to find a way to save the children of Ark – even if it is at the cost of her own life.
Mother Tongue is the new speculative middle-grade climate fiction from the award-winning author of The Wordsmith, winner of a White Raven award and a Library Association of America Notable Book.


A fascinating insight into World Building with author Patricia Forde. 

In writing terms, world building is the process of inventing an imaginary world. I had my first experience of inventing a new world when I was about seven. My five sisters and I took turns at washing the dishes after dinner each night. My job was to dry the cutlery and replace it in the cutlery drawer. Over time, I found ways to amuse myself as I worked. I imagined that I was dealing with families: the Knife family, the Fork family and the Spoon family. Teaspoons were neutral. They were babies and could go into any family. Soon I was playing elaborate games of make believe with the cutlery. I made houses for them and had had them visit one another. I decided that the Forks were cantankerous and that the children in the other families were afraid of them. Without ever knowing that such a skill existed I had started to world build.
Later, I used the same technique with a pack of cards. Now the families were the Hearts, Diamonds, Spades and Clubs. And the children had ages! The ten of clubs could play with the ten of hearts but they ran away when the young three of spades tried to join in. The mammies would get together to do the shopping while the dads went out to work. (Odd, given my own mother worked!) As I got older, the stories became more elaborate, rules were made, punishments invented for those who broke the rules and in my head these imaginary worlds streamed past all borders until even I couldn’t see where they ended.
Inventing Ark, the land ruled by John Noa after the climate-change catastophe known as the Melting, whilst writing The Wordsmith and later Mother Tongue was the most enjoyable part of the work for me. I gave Ark a history. I did a timeline from our time to where the story starts. I had to know, for example, what age Noa was when the final catastrophes happened, in order to make the timeline believable. I had to imagine what the end had looked like, the panic as people fled from the rising water. I had to think about the geography of Ark. I drew maps showing key places to keep me grounded as I wrote. I thought about religion. There is a statue of The Goddess in Ark. We discover that she was actually a prophet sent to warn people about human cloning. In my head there was a long and complex story about the religions of Ark, what people believed in and why. John Noa didn’t believe in an afterlife. He said that only mankind would be arrogant enough to believe that death wasn’t the end.
I love historical fiction and as the story took place after the Melting had happened it felt more like going back in time. Global warming had caused the Earth to heat up, the seas to rise and all technology had been drowned.
 We were back in a time before computers, before phones, before the industrial age. In Ark you find shoemakers and tanners alongside farmers and cooks.
This dystopian future was a simpler place in many ways but also has some new ideas. There is, for example, Central Kitchen. People are not allowed to cook for themselves. It’s less wasteful, and more energy efficient, to have all the cooking done in one location. People eat what is in season and they eat what they are given or they starve. No citizen of Ark gets to choose what they eat. That too is done centrally. I found that idea quite abhorrent. I love food and I love to cook. I believe it’s a basic human right to be allowed to cook your own food.
In Mother Tongue we move out into the forest that surrounds Ark with its rebel camps, wild animals and strange atmosphere. This was a different type of world building. Here I had to think about the life of an outlaw. What it’s like to live on the edge of a society. I drew a map of the forest and studied different flora and fauna, though much of the research didn’t make it into the book.
And then there is the question of language. In any fantastical world you need to interrogate language. Is there more than one language, more than one dialect? In Ark, there are people who are fluent, people who are wordless, and in between there are those who survive on just five hundred words. Even within that last subset, there are people who speak beautifully, like Mrs Truckle, and many who sound ‘rusty’ to Letta’s well-tuned ear.
History, geography, religion, class, money, language and power. All of these things are elements of world building. They say you should never see how a sausage is made or how a law is made. I think they could add world building to the list. Whereas the writer needs to know a lot about a newly invented world, the reader doesn't need a massive amount of detail. They don’t need to be deluged with information and back story. Readers can hugely enjoy the experience of the world (think of The Hobbit or The Borrowers) but really they want to have an emotional reaction to the story. This reaction comes primarily from the reader’s relationship with the characters.
When it comes to constructing a world, I think the reader needs vivid details, suggestions and well-placed clues. They do the rest of the work for themselves.
World building can be a stressful occupation for a writer and it is fraught with difficulties but when I am about to imagine a new world I like to think of what Bilbo Baggins once said:
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” –Bilbo Baggins

Patricia Forde

Patricia Forde is from Galway, on the west coast of Ireland. Her first novel The Wordsmith was published to great critical acclaim in 2015. It has since been published in the United States, Australia, Denmark, Russia, Turkey and the Netherlands. It has won a White Raven Award from the International Youth Library, is an American Library Association Notable Book for Children in the United States, and was shortlisted for the Children’s Book of the Year Award in Ireland. In 2018 Patricia wrote Bumpfizzle the Best on Planet Earth, which was chosen as the Dublin UNESCO Citywide Read 2019.






MY BOOK REVIEW FOR MOTHER TONGUE BY PATRICIA FORDE
CHILDREN 10+
After global warming, the new order wants to silence speech forever. Letta is a wordsmith and rebel, teaching children language, music and art. But when babies start to go missing, she must find a way to save them. This taut dystopian thriller has a strong environmental message at its heart. It also questions the balance between political power and corruption. This vivid world and courageous heroine will enthral readers and is ideal for book clubs.
PB Little Island £7.99
5/5 Stars



Saturday, 12 October 2019

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


This week my children's book reviews include a brave coming-of-age drama, a picture book about empathy, a return to Impossible Places and a magical middle grade adventure.

 

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



BOOK OF THE WEEK 

SCARS LIKE WINGS BY ERIN STEWART
YOUNG ADULT 13+
Sixteen-year-old Ava must return to school after a house fire left her disfigured. After meeting Piper Ava feels more able to cope with the daily tormenting. Can Ava come to terms with her new reality? An inspiring coming-of-age tale about overcoming life's obstacles and dealing with scars whether they be inside or out. It's a brave and empathetic account of a young girl overcoming enormous adversity on her terms. A compelling story that won't be easily forgotten.
HB Simon & Schuster £12.99



A HOME FOR LUNA BY STEF GEMMILL & MEL ARMSTRONG
PICTURE BOOK 4+
When Luna, the cat washes up on a strange shore, she is scared and lonely. A group of penguins show her kindness and welcome her to their group. But will she ever feel at home? The bold and dramatic illustrations bring the story about the meaning of friendship to life. A joyful and funny story that is perfect for sharing. It would be ideal for teaching about empathy and acceptance of people's differences.
HB New Frontier Publishing £11.99



THE GREAT BRAIN ROBBERY BY P.G.BELL
CHILDREN 9+
Suzy can't wait to return to the Union of Impossible Places as a Postal Operative. But when she overhears a dastardly plan to destroy Trollville she must race through magical cloud-worlds to catch the unexpected villain. Children will adore the array of wild and wondrous characters and the illustrations by Flavia Sorrentino. It's full of treasure, quirky magic, new characters and not forgetting 'fuzzics', not physics. For every child who's dreamed of being whisked off on an adventure.
Usborne HB £12.99



THE EXTREMELY INCONVENIENT ADVENTURES OF BRONTE METTLESTONE BY JACLYN MORIARTY
CHILDREN 9+
When Bronte's parents are killed by pirates she is instructed in their will to deliver gifts to her ten extraordinary aunts. They include a rock star, a dragon specialist and a cruise ship captain! If she doesn't fulfil the request terrible things will happen. This steely and courageous heroine will have to battle avalanches, magic and a lot of surprises. A whimsical and imaginative fantasy quest that will enthral until the end. A spellbinding gift.
Guppy Books HB £14.99