The Naughtiest Girl by Enid Blyton

The Naughtiest Girl books then, eh? Let’s talk about them and what riots of weirdness they are. I’ve been rereading them for an article and I have thoughts noodling around in my brain about them. Blyton’s fascinating like that. She makes me noodle (is that a verb? Let’s make it one if it isn’t.). I’veContinue reading “The Naughtiest Girl by Enid Blyton”

Warrior women and children’s books

A couple of years ago, I attended a conference. As is usual, there was a bookshop there. As is perhaps less usual, there was a remarkable author there. She was – is – elderly. Tiny. Legendary. She arrived at lunch; word ran around the tables that she was here, that she had arrived. Arrived. IContinue reading “Warrior women and children’s books”

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, a modern retelling of Little Women by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Graphic Novel: A Modern Retelling of Little Women by Rey Terciero My rating: 5 of 5 stars I loved this. So much. Little Women is one of those iconic texts and retellings of iconic texts can be challenging things. Do you stick with the iconic or do you goContinue reading “Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, a modern retelling of Little Women by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo”

The Vicarage Children In Skye by Lorna Hill

The Vicarage Children in Skye by Lorna Hill My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’d like you to imagine a very suppressed scream. That’s the noise I made when spotting this in my library’s book-sale. Now, a library must always have a book-sale because they are not ginormous buildings with elastic sides, and books mustContinue reading “The Vicarage Children In Skye by Lorna Hill”

Meekoo and the Big Red Potty by Camilla Reid and Nicola Slater

Meekoo and the Big Red Potty by Camilla Reid My rating: 5 of 5 stars God, I love what Nosy Crow do with their early years stuff. It’s not just the fact that they include an on/off switch for the sound effects (actual, unutterable genius), but it’s the fact that they take it so seriously.Continue reading “Meekoo and the Big Red Potty by Camilla Reid and Nicola Slater”

Three Sisters of Haworth : Girl Annual 5

This is GIRL. It was launched in 1951 as a sister title to EAGLE, and I have a lot of love for it. Comics of this period are endlessly fascinating in how they look outward; the world was there for the taking, and this was a generation that both would – and could – takeContinue reading “Three Sisters of Haworth : Girl Annual 5”

A Space To Be Herself : Locating Girlhood In Children’s Literature

Originally posted on Big boots and adventures :
If I believe in anything, I believe in making my research publicly accessible when and where I can. Obviously I believe in a lot of things, but I think that’s the one that underpins everything. Share your work. It’s terrifying, but I think, vital. So, on that note,…

The World of Elsie Jeanette Oxenham and her Books by Monica Godfrey

The World of Elsie Jeanette Oxenham and Her Books by Monica Godfrey My rating: 2 of 5 stars This isn’t a subtle biography by any means. It’s written from a very particular standpoint; one that I do accept, occasionally understand, but can’t ever describe as high literature. Godfrey is a fan, The World of ElsieContinue reading “The World of Elsie Jeanette Oxenham and her Books by Monica Godfrey”

The Abbey Girls In Town by Elsie J. Oxenham

The Abbey Girls in Town by Elsie J. Oxenham My rating: 4 of 5 stars Once you do an Abbey reread, you can’t stop. Though I was much more intrigued by the middle-aged spy drama happening in the background of this cover, and disappointed that it did not appear in the actual text itself, thisContinue reading “The Abbey Girls In Town by Elsie J. Oxenham”

To Kill A Mockingbird by Haper Lee, adapted and illustrated by Fred Fordham

To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel by Fred Fordham My rating: 5 of 5 stars It’s kind of terrifying to adapt something because you’re not just adapting the thing in question. You’re trying to adapt the aura of it; some books have this indefinable something about them that you can’t ever pin down inContinue reading “To Kill A Mockingbird by Haper Lee, adapted and illustrated by Fred Fordham”

El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo by Cece Bell My rating: 4 of 5 stars Sometimes, due to library reservation queues and the like, it takes me a long time to get to a book. And that’s a good thing, because it tells me that it’s being talked about, that it’s being passed from hand to hand fever-quick andContinue reading “El Deafo by Cece Bell”

No Ballet Shoes In Syria by Catherine Bruton

No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton My rating: 5 of 5 stars Aya is eleven, Syrian, and seeking asylum in Britain. Her mum, her, and her baby brother have escaped from the war in Syria – but her father got separated from them on the way. Her whole family is suffering from theContinue reading “No Ballet Shoes In Syria by Catherine Bruton”

A Girl’s Stronghold by E.F. Pollard

A Girl’s Stronghold by E.F Pollard My rating: 4 of 5 stars Delightfully nutty in the way that only turn of the century children’s literature can be, this starts as something quite typical and then escalates to quite the heights. Were I the sort of scholar to throw around labels in a willy-nilly sort ofContinue reading “A Girl’s Stronghold by E.F. Pollard”

“Us” An Old-Fashioned Story by Mrs Molesworth

Us by Mrs. Molesworth My rating: 4 of 5 stars First published in 1885, ‘Us’ is a fairly typical piece of children’s literature for this age. The good are good, the bad are bad, and the upper classes are full of moral upstanding-ness and the lower classes (particularly gypsies) are the worst. They are prejudicesContinue reading ““Us” An Old-Fashioned Story by Mrs Molesworth”

A trio of board book reviews

I have a trio of board books to bring to your attention today! When I’m sent something to review, it doesn’t always get to the point of being reviewed. Sometimes we don’t click, sometimes there’s very little I can say about it, or sometimes it’s so out of my remit that I wouldn’t know whereContinue reading “A trio of board book reviews”

I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’ve been meaning to read Alice Oseman’s work for a long while. It’s always a good sign when her books fly in and out of the library, quicker than swifts in summer, because that means they’re being read. Fiercely, voraciously, passionately.Continue reading “I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman”

So You Think You’ve Got It Bad? A Kid’s Life in Ancient Greece by Chae Strathie, illus. Marisa Morea

So You Think You’ve Got It Bad? A Kid’s Life in Ancient Greece by Chae Strathie My rating: 4 of 5 stars This was fun. ‘So You Think You’ve Got It Bad? A Kid’s Life In Ancient Greece’ isn’t the pithiest of titles (and indeed, a structure paralleled by others in the series such asContinue reading “So You Think You’ve Got It Bad? A Kid’s Life in Ancient Greece by Chae Strathie, illus. Marisa Morea”

Revisiting The Bunker Diary; or, the state of Children’s and Young Adult literature today

I’ve recently been revisiting The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks. Much of the prompt for this comes from a class I’ll be teaching in a couple of weeks about writing young adult fiction, though I admit a part of me was interested to see how it felt reading this complex, challenging book from a freshContinue reading “Revisiting The Bunker Diary; or, the state of Children’s and Young Adult literature today”

Charlie Changes Into A Chicken by Sam Copeland

Charlie Changes Into a Chicken by Sam Copeland My rating: 4 of 5 stars There’s something rather appealing about a book that displays its intent so clearly. Charlie Changes Into A Chicken gives you everything from page one, and continues to do that on every page that follows. It’s determinedly readable (seriously the drive behindContinue reading “Charlie Changes Into A Chicken by Sam Copeland”

You’re Not A Proper Pirate, Sidney Green! by Ruth Quayle and Deborah Allwright

You’re Not a Proper Pirate, Sidney Green! by Ruth Quayle My rating: 4 of 5 stars You’re Not A Proper Pirate, Sidney Green! is a lot of fun. I can’t imagine things not looking up after a read of this. It really is genuine, exuberant, ‘drop it all at once and have an adventure’ fun.Continue reading “You’re Not A Proper Pirate, Sidney Green! by Ruth Quayle and Deborah Allwright”

2019 Nature Month-By-Month: A Children’s Almanac

National Trust: 2019 Nature Month-By-Month: A Children’s Almanac by Anna Wilson My rating: 4 of 5 stars It’s the little details about this book that make me happy. The idea of a month-by-month review of the year is no new one within the world of children’s publishing. I recently have been spending several very happyContinue reading “2019 Nature Month-By-Month: A Children’s Almanac”

The Skylarks War by Hilary McKay

The Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay My rating: 5 of 5 stars Endlessly beautiful, in that way that only Hilary McKay can be, The Skylarks War is perfect. I thought it might be on page ninety-seven, and then when I finished it and let out a great gasping sob at that ending, I knew itContinue reading “The Skylarks War by Hilary McKay”

Harriet Takes The Field by Catherine Christian

Harriet Takes The Field by Catherine Christian My rating: 5 of 5 stars I loved this, even though I knew nothing about Catherine Christian before I saw it. Turns out she was a prolific author with credits spanning over fifty years and topics as diverse as Arthuriana, Guides, and Egyptian history, and that’s an achievementContinue reading “Harriet Takes The Field by Catherine Christian”

A Stranger At Green Knowe by L. M. Boston

A Stranger at Green Knowe by L.M. Boston My rating: 5 of 5 stars I’ve always had a messy relationship with the Green Knowe stories. They’ve appealed to me less than I suspect their components ought. In other words a mysterious story set in a strange house in the English countryside should have been myContinue reading “A Stranger At Green Knowe by L. M. Boston”

A look at Young England (1914-1915)

My speciality is Girl’s Own, but sometimes my interest gets caught by those publications intended squarely for boyish readers. Such it was with Young England, a compiled annual of a ‘story paper’ for boys. I picked up copies of the 1914-1915 and the 1909-1910 editions for an absolute song, intrigued by the size of theContinue reading “A look at Young England (1914-1915)”

Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright

Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright My rating: 3 of 5 stars It’s always a little difficult coming to a series ‘second book in as it were’ as you do tend to miss a lot of what’s gone on. It took me a while to figure out who was who, and what was what, andContinue reading “Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright”

Aleph by Janik Coat

Aleph by Janik Coat My rating: 4 of 5 stars A quirky twist on the ‘first words’ format for babies and toddlers and where others may stray toward the traditional and expected, Aleph embraces the deliciously surreal. The images are big, often falling off the page, with more than a hint of those thick felt-tipContinue reading “Aleph by Janik Coat”

Until We Win by Linda Newbery

Until We Win by Linda Newbery My rating: 4 of 5 stars Until We Win by Linda Newbery is a slender, accessible novella touching upon a key point in suffragette history. It’s framed through the perspective of Lizzy, an everygirl who comes across the work of the suffragettes and becomes a passionate supporter of theContinue reading “Until We Win by Linda Newbery”

Death In The Spotlight by Robin Stevens

Death in the Spotlight by Robin Stevens My rating: 4 of 5 stars There’s always been something special about Robin Stevens’ work for me. I’ve been a fan of her since Murder Most Unladylike, a book that features in my thesis and a paper I’m working on and a presentation I’ll be doing in aContinue reading “Death In The Spotlight by Robin Stevens”

A Dangerous Mission by Bessie Marchant

A Dangerous Mission by Bessie Marchant My rating: 4 of 5 stars The more I read of Bessie Marchant, the more I enjoy her. She is a writer who hybridises Elinor M. Brent-Dyer at her Ruritanian best with the entirety of the Boy’s Own Genre, and makes it her own. She is rather fabulous, andContinue reading “A Dangerous Mission by Bessie Marchant”

Circe by Madeline Miller

(A brief note from the editor; this is a blog concerned with children’s and young adult literature. Circe is arguably neither. Yet it is remarkable and this blog will always find a home for the remarkable story. This is something to give to those readers breaching the edge of young adult and looking for somethingContinue reading “Circe by Madeline Miller”

“Rosa” – Doctor Who, and Malorie Blackman

I’m still shaking after last night’s Doctor Who episode. Written by the illustrious Malorie Blackman, a legend in the world of children’s and young adult literature – and former Children’s Laureate to boot, Rosa was set in Montgomery, Alabama and concerned the equally illustrious figure of Rosa Parks. It’s sometimes difficult to understand story whenContinue reading ““Rosa” – Doctor Who, and Malorie Blackman”

Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley

Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley My rating: 4 of 5 stars Frequently charming and really rather beautifully done, this 90th anniversary edition of the Milly-Molly-Mandy stories is a lovely thing. It’s been a long time since I read Milly-Molly-Mandy and if you’re the same, here’s a brief refresher. Written in the 1920s, MMM isContinue reading “Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley”

The Ink House by Rory Dobner

The Ink House by Rory Dobner My rating: 3 of 5 stars Spectacularly produced, somewhat slender in the story department, and full of some rather intensely beautiful artwork, The Ink House is somewhat of a paradox. It’s beautiful, first and foremost; written and illustrated by Rory Dobner, an artist with a substantial and impressive commercialContinue reading “The Ink House by Rory Dobner”

Dancing Peel by Lorna Hill

Dancing Peel by Lorna Hill My rating: 4 of 5 stars There’s not much I wouldn’t do for one of these glorious Esme Verity covers. The daughter of Lorna Hill, Verity has a great grace to her artwork and I love it. The light. The richness. The softness. This is good, classical artwork and ratherContinue reading “Dancing Peel by Lorna Hill”

Mary And Frankenstein by Linda Bailey and Júlia Sardà

Mary and Frankenstein by Linda Bailey My rating: 5 of 5 stars It has been a long time since I have read something so perfect as this, and if it doesn’t win the Kate Greenaway Medal this year, or at the very least make the shortlist, then I’ll hand in my badge. I’m not sureContinue reading “Mary And Frankenstein by Linda Bailey and Júlia Sardà”

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich My rating: 4 of 5 stars I think that to understand this book, you need to understand the context of Dear Evan Hansen itself. Dear Evan Hansen is a musical that’s rather wonderful, even when you just listen to the soundtrack and have to hit Wikipedia to work outContinue reading “Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul”

Tales Out Of School by Geoffrey Trease

Tales Out of School: A Survey of Children’s Fiction by Geoffrey Trease My rating: 3 of 5 stars Epochal at its time, this book sought to locate children’s fiction as an object of serious critique. It came during a powerful point in the history of British children’s literature, that mid-twentieth century that saw so manyContinue reading “Tales Out Of School by Geoffrey Trease”

How to pitch your book for review to a book blogger

I’ve been wanting to write a brief guide on how to pitch your book for review to a book blogger for a while. It seems to be one of those things that a lot of people can’t quite figure out, or get intimidated by, or just sort of blindly hope for the best with. And,Continue reading “How to pitch your book for review to a book blogger”

We Rode To The Sea by Christine Pullein-Thompson

We Rode to the Sea by Christine Pullein-Thompson My rating: 4 of 5 stars “This was my first book…” writes Christine Pullein-Thompson in the introduction to the 1973 Collins edition, “…It is the book which made my name. I hope you enjoy it.” And how can you not when this is Pullein-Thompson at her deliciousContinue reading “We Rode To The Sea by Christine Pullein-Thompson”

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed My rating: 4 of 5 stars A quietly, precisely told story, Amal Unbound is careful about itself and careful about the story it tells. It is also rather unrelenting, quietly bold and ultimately, rather powerful. It’s the story of a Pakistani girl named Amal who, when forced into indentured servitude,Continue reading “Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed”

A Hidden Treasure : ‘The Child’s Guide To Knowledge’ (1861)

I’ve been visiting some of my favourite bookshops over the last few weeks and picking up some utter treasures. These are books that wouldn’t and won’t make a fortune if I sold them on, but to me they’re priceless in what they say about our ideas of childhood and children many moons ago. I’m goingContinue reading “A Hidden Treasure : ‘The Child’s Guide To Knowledge’ (1861)”

Sweet Valley Confidential – Ten Years Later : Francine Pascal

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal My rating: 2 of 5 stars I can understand the feelings behind this, and the urge behind it, but Ten Years Later is a problematic and frankly strange book that seems to deny or barely recognise much of the structure and themes that made the SweetContinue reading “Sweet Valley Confidential – Ten Years Later : Francine Pascal”

What Does An Anteater Eat? : Ross Collins

What Does An Anteater Eat? by Ross Collins My rating: 4 of 5 stars Picture books are a performative thing. Every book is, in a sense, but picture books are perhaps more performative than others. They are made to be shared and talked about and enjoyed by multitudes of readers. They are made to beContinue reading “What Does An Anteater Eat? : Ross Collins”

Miss Wilmer’s Gang : Bessie Marchant

Miss Wilmer’s Gang by Bessie Marchant My rating: 3 of 5 stars This was my first ever Bessie Marchant, and after we got to the bit about taxidermy, I realised that we were in for quite a ride. She’s an interesting author is Marchant, always on my radar with her girls full of Strong AndContinue reading “Miss Wilmer’s Gang : Bessie Marchant”

Stories For Boys Who Dare To Be Different – Ben Brooks

Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different by Ben Brooks My rating: 4 of 5 stars I have promised to be, above all things, honest in the reviews that I write and so it’s for that reason that I must confess that I wanted to dislike this a lot more than I did. TheseContinue reading “Stories For Boys Who Dare To Be Different – Ben Brooks”

Pony on the Twelfth Floor : Polly Faber, illus. Sarah Jennings

Pony on the Twelfth Floor by Polly Faber My rating: 5 of 5 stars There’s a lot to love about what Polly Faber does and I, for one, hope she continues to do it. I had, and continue to have, so much time for her work on the Mango and Bambang series ( which IContinue reading “Pony on the Twelfth Floor : Polly Faber, illus. Sarah Jennings”

The NCRCL Open Day 2018

I had a lovely opportunity the other weekend to revisit the University of Roehampton where, seven (!) years ago, I studied my MA in Children’s Literature. It’s a course that changed my life, not only through the legitimisations of the interest that I had but also through the groundwork it gave me to explore thoseContinue reading “The NCRCL Open Day 2018”

Home Home : Lisa Allen-Agostini

Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini My rating: 4 of 5 stars There’s a point towards the end of the first chapter of Home Home where I got The Feeling. You’ll know what The Feeling is; it’s that moment when you read something, maybe a word or a sentence or a metaphor, whatever, but you knowContinue reading “Home Home : Lisa Allen-Agostini”

A Pony For Jean : Joanna Cannan

A Pony for Jean by Joanna Cannan My rating: 5 of 5 stars There’s a reason I practically fainted when I found this in the pound shop and that reason is this: A Pony For Jean is a stone-cold classic, rich and evocative and unapologetically ponyish and it should be in the hands of anyoneContinue reading “A Pony For Jean : Joanna Cannan”

A quickening of the heart : life as a book collector

I had a bit of a lovely moment the other day. I found a clump of the books that I collect, and I bought them all because it was one of those rare occasions where I could actually afford all of them. And now, several days later, I’m still riding that wave of delight thatContinue reading “A quickening of the heart : life as a book collector”

The Three Jays Against The Clock : Pat Smythe

The Three Jays Against the Clock by Pat Smythe My rating: 4 of 5 stars I have been aching for a reread of Pat Smythe’s pony books for quite some time, and so, dear reader, when I found a copy of The Three Jays Against The Clock in the bookshoop I clutched it to myContinue reading “The Three Jays Against The Clock : Pat Smythe”

The School by The Sea : Angela Brazil

The School by the Sea by Angela Brazil My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is great. It bounces along in that determinedly vivacious sort of way that Angela Brazil does (“Girls! Girls Everywhere!”) and then completely forgets about plot and has a natural history interlude that goes on for about three hundred pages, beforeContinue reading “The School by The Sea : Angela Brazil”

The Children At Green Meadows : Enid Blyton

The Children At Green Meadows by Enid Blyton My rating: 5 of 5 stars Sometimes Enid Blyton could be rather brilliant. I picked this up in a second hand bookshop the other day as a treat to myself. I had a vague memory of the title and, what’s more, I had the odd ache forContinue reading “The Children At Green Meadows : Enid Blyton”

Looking After William : Eve Coy

Looking After William by Eve Coy My rating: 5 of 5 stars It’s very easy for me to become a little cocky when it comes to reading children’s books. I read a lot of them, and when you read a lot of anything, you become familiar to the tips and tricks that such books use.Continue reading “Looking After William : Eve Coy”

Home Fetters : Raymond Jacberns

Home Fetters by Raymond Jacberns My rating: 3 of 5 stars I had a bit of an interesting time in a bookshop recently, spotting a vast pile of those books that you just know are the sort of books that you want. Luckily enough they were also the sort of books that clearly didn’t sellContinue reading “Home Fetters : Raymond Jacberns”

Caldicott Place : Noel Streatfeild

Caldicott Place by Noel Streatfeild My rating: 4 of 5 stars Sometimes I suspect that, along with ‘Duvet Days’, there should be ‘Streatfeild Days’ where those people who feel a peculiar ache at their soul that they cannot quite identify should be allowed to take a day off to read a Streatfeild of their choice.Continue reading “Caldicott Place : Noel Streatfeild”

Translating classic children’s books into feminist blank verse

(Honestly, I’ve never been more on brand). I am no translator. My French is passable, in that ‘I cannot remember the precise word but can vaguely approximate the sense of what I am trying to describe to you’ sort of manner, but it’s not up to translating prose. My English, however, is and so overContinue reading “Translating classic children’s books into feminist blank verse”

The Positively Last Performance : Geraldine McCaughrean

The Positively Last Performance by Geraldine McCaughrean My rating: 4 of 5 stars There are some authors who have this fierce richness about them when they work. They tell story; words that run together and layer something wonderfully thick and dense about you and you don’t quite know what’s happening until you finish it andContinue reading “The Positively Last Performance : Geraldine McCaughrean”

Running On Empty : SE Durrant

Running on Empty by S.E. Durrant My rating: 4 of 5 stars Running On Empty: a story of family, relationships, and of knotty moments and problems that need solving but don’t have easy solutions, a story of life, really. It’s the second novel from SE Durrant (the first, A Little Bit Of Sky, I reviewContinue reading “Running On Empty : SE Durrant”

My experience of Choose Your Own Story apps

I’ve been looking a lot recently at some choose your own story apps available on Android. This methodological restriction is primarily to the fact that an Android phone is what I have, and I was interested to see the sorts of stories that were available for it. I’ve never really looked at choose your ownContinue reading “My experience of Choose Your Own Story apps”

The allure of forgotten notebooks

I am one of those people who has legitimate and primal and fundamental personal needs for stationery. Good stationery is a human right. Notebooks make everything better. One of the first bits of advice I will give anybody beginning a research degree is to buy yourself all the stationery that your heart desires. The onlyContinue reading “The allure of forgotten notebooks”

Ella On The Outside : Cath Howe

Ella on the Outside by Cath Howe My rating: 4 of 5 stars Charming, subtle and incredibly – suddenly – moving, Ella On The Outside is one of those delightfully unclassifiable ‘thank god it’s in the world books that Nosy Crow does so well. It’s due out on May 3rd and I think it’s somethingContinue reading “Ella On The Outside : Cath Howe”

Max the Detective Cat – The Disappearing Diva : Sarah Todd Taylor

Max the Detective Cat and the Disappearing Diva by Sarah Todd Taylor My rating: 4 of 5 stars There’s been a spate of detectives in the world of children’s books over the last few years. There hasn’t, however, been a detective with four legs and a white tail. This is Max the Detective Cat whoContinue reading “Max the Detective Cat – The Disappearing Diva : Sarah Todd Taylor”

“Help, my child isn’t reading!”

I had a couple of really interesting chats recently with parents concerned about their children’s reading habits. They weren’t reading. They don’t read. They don’t read challenging books. They won’t pick up a book. And when all you see in the media is reports about how children don’t read, and this means your child inContinue reading ““Help, my child isn’t reading!””

Janie Steps In : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

Janie Steps In by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 5 of 5 stars It’s hard to know where to begin with this delightful little box of tricks, so perhaps we shall be like Fraulein Maria and start at the beginning for that is a very good place to start. And beginnings, really, are a strangeContinue reading “Janie Steps In : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

Jack Fortune and the Search for the Hidden Valley : Sue Purkiss

Jack Fortune: And the Search for the Hidden Valley by Sue Purkiss My rating: 4 of 5 stars My eye was caught by the premise of this one. Jack is an orphaned boy and, after one prank too far, his Aunt washes her hands of him. Jack is sent to be with his Uncle, anContinue reading “Jack Fortune and the Search for the Hidden Valley : Sue Purkiss”

The circularity of debate

I have become increasingly conscious of the circularity of many debates within children’s literature, and the way that, so often, these feel as though they’re pushing against an echo chamber. Does it matter to talk about such things when it feels as though nobody’s listening? Of course it does, for words are weapons and vitalContinue reading “The circularity of debate”

The Stone Bird : Jenny McCartney, illus. Patrick Benson

The Stone Bird by Jenny McCartney My rating: 4 of 5 stars It took me a long time to understand The Stone Bird. When I first received it for review, I read it and didn’t quite connect with it. There was something not there for me, and so The Stone Bird slid to the pileContinue reading “The Stone Bird : Jenny McCartney, illus. Patrick Benson”

A Spoonful of Murder : Robin Stevens

A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens My rating: 5 of 5 stars There was a point in reading this when the back of my neck started to tingle. It’s not often that happens, but when it does, it’s the sort of thing you need to pay attention to. And I think you’ve experienced itContinue reading “A Spoonful of Murder : Robin Stevens”

The Belles : Dhonielle Clayton

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton My rating: 4 of 5 stars I don’t usually step towards fantasy, but The Belles caught my eye. Camellia Beauregard is a Belle, tasked with ‘controlling’ Beauty in the gray and dammed world of Orléans. It is only through appointments with a Belle, that people can be transformed and madeContinue reading “The Belles : Dhonielle Clayton”

Alpha : Bessora, Barroux, (Sarah Ardizzone (trans.))

Alpha. Abidjan to Gare du Nord by Bessora My rating: 5 of 5 stars It’s difficult to know how to classify this raw and brilliant book, so perhaps I shall classify it as a story about people and leave it at that. I was lucky enough to interview Bessora, and her translator Sarah Ardizzone hereContinue reading “Alpha : Bessora, Barroux, (Sarah Ardizzone (trans.))”

An interview with Bessora and Sarah Ardizzone : two-thirds of the creative team behind Alpha

One of the highlights of Pop Up Lab this year was hearing Bessora the author, and Sarah Ardizzone, the translator, deliver a key note about their graphic novel Alpha. Alpha is a fascinating project; originally published in French and republished in English by the team at Barrington Stoke. At a conference that discussed the importance of visual literacies,Continue reading “An interview with Bessora and Sarah Ardizzone : two-thirds of the creative team behind Alpha”

Five Fall Into Adventure : Enid Blyton

Five Fall into Adventure by Enid Blyton My rating: 4 of 5 stars There’s a little part in this where Julian, after detailing the current predicament that the Famous Five have gotten themselves into, remarks, “…This is all very stupid and melodramatic” and it’s kind of the highlight of the entire book for me. It’sContinue reading “Five Fall Into Adventure : Enid Blyton”

The Arrival : Shaun Tan

The Arrival by Shaun Tan My rating: 5 of 5 stars It hit me recently that I’d never reviewed this, this story of eloquence and love and shadows, and that was something I had to make right. The Arrival holds a difficult place in my heart in that, I think, I read it too soon.Continue reading “The Arrival : Shaun Tan”

A Change Is Gonna Come

A Change Is Gonna Come My rating: 5 of 5 stars A Change Is Gonna Come is a compilation of short stories and poems from 12 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers, ranging freely over a series of topics and themes, and pretty much all of them are rather wonderful, powerful contributions. What really struckContinue reading “A Change Is Gonna Come”

Seven Scamps : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

This is my last read of 2017! I wish you a lovely new year, and if festivities aren’t your thing, I also wish you the chance to spend the evening with a Very Good Book…. Seven Scamps by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is such a delightfully weird book. I’mContinue reading “Seven Scamps : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

Things I would like to see less (and more) of in the world of children’s books in 2018

Less… Strong Female Characters Who Are Strong In One Way Only. Strong Female Characters Who Are Violent And Thus Strong And That Is About All You Get. “I read Harry Potter once…” Looking into the mirror scenes. Lists from headteachers of Approved Literature saying that they read Boccaccio when they were two days old, andContinue reading “Things I would like to see less (and more) of in the world of children’s books in 2018”

The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage : Philip Pullman

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman My rating: 2 of 5 stars It’s difficult to review this book so, forgive me if I take a while to get to the point. If I’m honest, I’m not wholly sure as to why I didn’t like this and I’m not sure that that dislike comes from me,Continue reading “The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage : Philip Pullman”

Egyptomania : Emma Giuliani and Carole Saturno

Egyptomania by Carole Saturno My rating: 4 of 5 stars Something very good has been happening in children’s non-fiction over the past few years. This is something to add to that realm of good things. Big, bold and rather deliciously put together, Egyptomania is a look at several key aspects of Ancient Egypt. Where thisContinue reading “Egyptomania : Emma Giuliani and Carole Saturno”

Freshers : Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison My rating: 5 of 5 stars Messy, chaotic, and laugh out loud funny, this is something rather joyous. A dual narrative, crafted by dual writers, Freshers was one of the most refreshing, honest and wildly moving young adult novels I’ve read for a while. There was the slight plusContinue reading “Freshers : Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison”