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”

The Wrong Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

The Wrong Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 5 of 5 stars This is so wholeheartedly a good book. In a way, it’s a prototype for the ideal school story. The new girl arrives; highjinks jink, a Talent Is Discovered, and another girl gets her comeuppance. The difference with The Wrong Chalet SchoolContinue reading “The Wrong Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

Joey Goes To The Oberland : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

(Forgive me, but I’m on a Chalet School kick at the moment… 🙂 ) Joey Goes to the Oberland by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 3 of 5 stars It’s not my favourite this one, and yet it’s still oddly hypnotic and occasionally rather lovely. Set outside of the school, Joey and her family areContinue reading “Joey Goes To The Oberland : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

The Chalet School and Barbara : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

The Chalet School and Barbara by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is the point in the series where we have what we’d now refer to as a reboot. There are now two branches of the Chalet School, plus St Mildred’s, plus the girls who act as companions to sick relativesContinue reading “The Chalet School and Barbara : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

My Little Pony : The Ultimate Guide

My Little Pony: The Ultimate Guide: All the Fun, Facts and Magic of My Little Pony by My Little Pony My rating: 5 of 5 stars I am very much here for the firmly feminist message that is the My Little Pony series, but I am also here for very nicely done media tie-ins. It’sContinue reading “My Little Pony : The Ultimate Guide”

The Murderer’s Ape : Jakob Wegelius

The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius My rating: 4 of 5 stars The titular Murderer’s Ape is Sally Jones and she’s also our narrator for this gently told story of murder, double-crosses and false imprisonment. It’s an interesting note to take for such a dramatic series of topics but then again, Sally Jones is anContinue reading “The Murderer’s Ape : Jakob Wegelius”

Why We Took The Car : Wolfgang Herrndorf

Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf My rating: 4 of 5 stars After spending time as a writer in residence for a road, I’ve been increasingly interested in the role of ‘roads’ in children’s and young adult literature. Young adult literature, in fact, has a perfect sort of marriage with the metaphor ofContinue reading “Why We Took The Car : Wolfgang Herrndorf”

Visual literacies, comics and Mark Twain : An Interview with Dylan Calder of Pop Up Projects

I’m lucky enough to be attending an event tomorrow which focuses on something very dear to my heart – visual storytelling. As you’ll know from my picture book reviews in particular, visual literacy is an important and powerful thing that is, so often, misunderstood or denied its critical relevance. Pop Up Lab, the brainchild of Pop UpContinue reading “Visual literacies, comics and Mark Twain : An Interview with Dylan Calder of Pop Up Projects”

An A to Z of Monsters and Magical Beings : Rob Hodgson and Aidan Onn

An A to Z of Monsters and Magical Beings by Rob Hodgson My rating: 3 of 5 stars I like this. A joint production by Rob Hodgson, and Aidan Onn, it was Hodgson’s artwork that originally caught my eye, with its exuberant and definite renderings of creatures ranging from the Sphinx through to the WerewolfContinue reading “An A to Z of Monsters and Magical Beings : Rob Hodgson and Aidan Onn”

Conversations with dead authors : Enid Blyton

  Enid Blyton “Can you write a biography of somebody without ever knowing the true facts? Why, you barely know anything about me.” She’s bored and not trying to hide it. I suspect that she never hides the way that she feels. I saw the little flash of irritation when they took a little tooContinue reading “Conversations with dead authors : Enid Blyton”

The Little Library Cookbook : Kate Young

The Little Library Cookbook by Kate Young My rating: 5 of 5 stars I’ve been waiting for this book for a while, ever since I came across Kate Young’s work online and, in particular, the moment where she made breakfast rolls as inspired by The School at the Chalet by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer. What moreContinue reading “The Little Library Cookbook : Kate Young”

Ottoline Goes To School : Chris Riddell

Ottoline Goes to School by Chris Riddell My rating: 5 of 5 stars It’s very easy for somebody who reads a lot of books to miss an author. And yet, equally, it’s also very easy to have a consciousness of who and what that author is and how they do what they do. This isContinue reading “Ottoline Goes To School : Chris Riddell”

The Princess and The Suffragette : Holly Webb

The Princess and the Suffragette by Holly Webb My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’ve been really interested in Webb’s recent turn towards some of the classics of children’s literature. She’s not alone in this of course, Jacqueline Wilson delivered the delightful Four Children And It, whilst Kate Saunders wrote the powerful Five Children OnContinue reading “The Princess and The Suffragette : Holly Webb”

Here I Stand : Amnesty International UK

Here I Stand by Amnesty International UK My rating: 4 of 5 stars There’s a lot to love about this pained, poised collection of short stories and much of that comes from its careful and classy curation. The authors, ranging from Frances Hardinge through to Sarah Crossan, and Chris Riddell, sit alongside a foreword byContinue reading “Here I Stand : Amnesty International UK”

Looking for Enid : Duncan McLaren

Looking for Enid: The Mysterious and Inventive Life of Enid Blyton by Duncan McLaren My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is possibly the strangest and yet, maybe, one of the most brilliant biographies of an author I’ve ever read. It’s an approach that I don’t think would have worked for anybody but Enid BlytonContinue reading “Looking for Enid : Duncan McLaren”

The Explorer – Katherine Rundell

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell My rating: 4 of 5 stars A brief moment of context. I didn’t wholly connect with The Wolf Wilder as much as I did with the rhapsodic and blissful joy of Rooftoppers, and so The Explorer was a book that I read with a little bit of nervousness. Rundell isContinue reading “The Explorer – Katherine Rundell”

A Wrinkle In Time : Hope Larson, adap. Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Hope Larson My rating: 5 of 5 stars There’s a lot of books in the world I haven’t read (she says, channeling Franco Moretti) and one of them is A Wrinkle in Time. I’ve a strange antipathy towards classics, and fantastical classics tend to slide towards theContinue reading “A Wrinkle In Time : Hope Larson, adap. Madeleine L’Engle”

Stardust : Jeanne Willis & Briony May Smith

Stardust by Jeanne Willis My rating: 4 of 5 stars Let’s talk about confidence. Confidence is hard for big people, let alone little people, to maintain, let alone figure out if they even have it in the first place. The world is an intimidating space and circumstance conspires to place people in intimidating positions. WhetherContinue reading “Stardust : Jeanne Willis & Briony May Smith”

Diary of a Tokyo Teen : Christine Mari Inzer

Diary of a Tokyo Teen: A Japanese-American Girl Draws Her Way Across the Land of Trendy Fashion, High-Tech Toilets and Maid Cafes by Christine Mari Inzer My rating: 4 of 5 stars There’s something immensely charming about this slender yet lovely memoir of a trip that Inzer took to Tokyo by herself at the ageContinue reading “Diary of a Tokyo Teen : Christine Mari Inzer”

So I found my first subject

So I’m currently down in Cambridge, working on the #a14stories project, and I spent much of yesterday outside. The grounds at Madingley Hall are free to enter to the public, and the gardens are beautiful. There’s influence here from Capability Brown, but also from something rather distinctly English; topiary hedges, and striped lawns. I wantedContinue reading “So I found my first subject”

Malibu Summer – Sweet Valley High: Francine Pascal

Malibu Summer by Francine Pascal My rating: 5 of 5 stars It’s been a long while since I read a Sweet Valley book, and even longer since I’ve seen the TV adaptation, but I’ve got neither out of my head. There’s something about these books that I’ve grouped with something like The Babysitters Club, BugContinue reading “Malibu Summer – Sweet Valley High: Francine Pascal”

I’m going to be a Writer In Residence at the University of Cambridge

I’m trying to be coy but I rather think that title has given it away a tad. So without further ado, I have some rather exciting news to share. I’m going to be working with the University of Cambridge for six weeks this Autumn, as the A14 Writer In Residence.  I’m going to be based forContinue reading “I’m going to be a Writer In Residence at the University of Cambridge”

The Secret Of the Old Clock : Carolyn Keene

The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene My rating: 4 of 5 stars It’s interesting to consider just how old this series is now. The Secret of the Old Clock, the first in the mythic Nancy Drew series, was originally published in 1930 with a substantial revision in 1959. That’s a fair while,Continue reading “The Secret Of the Old Clock : Carolyn Keene”

Pandora of Parrham Royal : Violet Needham

Pandora of Parrham Royal by Violet Needham My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’ve known about Violet Needham for a while but never really known about her, the specifics, at all. I had a vague idea that she was a contemporary of Elinor M. Brent-Dyer and Elsie Oxenham, but then, as I never found herContinue reading “Pandora of Parrham Royal : Violet Needham”

The legitimacy of critique : or, who am I?

(This is today’s post – a long read touching on criticism, the internet, and also distant reading. There’s a bit of theory, but I hope it’s worth the effort. If you’d like to read other longer posts in this series, here’s the archive of long reads.) I have a friend who’s researching narrative autobiography, andContinue reading “The legitimacy of critique : or, who am I?”

Moon : Britta Teckentrup

Moon: A Peek-Through Picture Book by Britta Teckentrup My rating: 5 of 5 stars Have you ever wondered why the moon shines in the night-time sky? There’s something to be said about the idea of grace in picture books. It’s an airy idea to grasp, particularly when rendered in the flatness of paper and print,Continue reading “Moon : Britta Teckentrup”

Bad Book Article Bingo

Here’s a little something to turn to when you read that next badly written article about children’s and young adult literature. Cross them off when you find them mentioned! Vampires Computer Games I blame the parents Youtube Twilight CLASSICS I blame the children Television I blame education “When I was young…” I blame the authorsContinue reading “Bad Book Article Bingo”

How famous were the Famous Five?

My thanks to Nikesh Shukla for the tweet that unknowingly prompted this pleasant and super nerdly distraction from my thesis … The Famous Five are Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the Dog. 4 humans and 1 dog. For the purposes of this post, we’ll discount Timmy (as much as it pains me) and thus work with 4 individuals. WithContinue reading “How famous were the Famous Five?”

When Dimple Met Rishi : Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon My rating: 5 of 5 stars When Dimple Met Rishi is a ferociously charming book. It’s also a book I heard about on social media and so, I suspect, might be my reposte to those critics who think that book-talk on social media is the death of everythingContinue reading “When Dimple Met Rishi : Sandhya Menon”

Listen to the Baby Animals : Marion Billet

Listen to the Baby Animals by Marion Billet My rating: 5 of 5 stars So I need to tell you a little bit about this book that, I suspect, might appeal quite immensely to the adults amongst you who have Suffered From Noisy Book Syndrome. Come on, we all know what I mean. Those booksContinue reading “Listen to the Baby Animals : Marion Billet”

‘Roads’ in children’s books

As I’m sure you’ll know, I have a particular interest in the representation of landscape in children’s books. Landscape tells you everything, and yet it’s often one of the more forgotten elements when people talk about a book. Consider the difference between the two sentences below. The cat sat on the mat in a field.Continue reading “‘Roads’ in children’s books”

Learning how to be not afraid

I was asked, the other day, in the middle of a conversation: “what has life as a research student taught you?’. And my answer was: “it’s taught me to be not afraid.” I was a little bit surprised as to where that came from and more so, perhaps, in how I phrased it. I thinkContinue reading “Learning how to be not afraid”

Collecting Sticks : Joe Decie

Collecting Sticks by Joe Decie My rating: 5 of 5 stars I was at a conference the other day where talk turned to the idea of ‘kindness’ and how writing can give an opportunity for emotions to be expressed another way. To shine a light into the darkness. It’s a complex idea and one thatContinue reading “Collecting Sticks : Joe Decie”

Losing my marbles (or the day I visited the Miffy Museum in Utrecht)

For those of you who don’t know of her, Miffy is a joy. She is a small white rabbit created by Dick Bruna and I love her greatly. Dear Grandma Bunny, for example, is one of the best picture books that have ever been made and The Little Bird isn’t far off. Miffy is oneContinue reading “Losing my marbles (or the day I visited the Miffy Museum in Utrecht)”

Piglettes : ClĂ©mentine Beauvais

Piglettes by ClĂ©mentine Beauvais My rating: 5 of 5 stars I’m always a little wary when I get offered a book to review that’s been written by somebody I know in real life. One of the things that I’m very deliberate on is that when I review, it comes from a place of honesty. AndContinue reading “Piglettes : ClĂ©mentine Beauvais”

Talking Empathy with Sita Brahmachari

I am immensely proud to be able to share a guest post with you today. I won’t ever deny that I’m picky about this sort of thing but that’s because I know you and I take this seriously. Children’s books are important, statuesque things and even more so in the frail and friable world weContinue reading “Talking Empathy with Sita Brahmachari”

My Name is Not Refugee : Kate Milner

My name is not Refugee by Kate Milner My rating: 4 of 5 stars In this increasingly complex and difficult world we live in, I’ve been looking for books that help to explain and support younger readers. They have often proven of immense value to myself and the dual appeal of texts like this toContinue reading “My Name is Not Refugee : Kate Milner”

The New School at Scawdale : Angela Brazil

The New School at Scawdale by Angela Brazil My rating: 4 of 5 stars I have a lot of time for Angela Brazil and The New School at Scawdale is a very distinctively Brazil book. It drifts rather pleasantly from set piece to set piece but doesn’t really do much with what it has. BackContinue reading “The New School at Scawdale : Angela Brazil”

Things A Bright Girl Can Do : Sally Nicholls

Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’ve been sitting on this review for a week or so, in that gloriously selfish phase of having read a Good Book but not wanting to talk about it. Sometimes I want to wallow in that sensation and just holdContinue reading “Things A Bright Girl Can Do : Sally Nicholls”

I Have No Secrets : Penny Joelson

I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson My rating: 4 of 5 stars There’s a lot to love about this potent and markedly well-told thriller, not in the least the vibrant delight that is the narrator Jemma. Unable to communicate, yet possessed of a quick-thinking and fiercely distinct personality, Jemma now needs to communicate moreContinue reading “I Have No Secrets : Penny Joelson”

Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls’ Boarding-Schools, 1939–1979 : Ysenda Maxtone Graham

Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls’ Boarding-Schools, 1939–1979 by Ysenda Maxtone Graham My rating: 5 of 5 stars This is a delight. The second of two boarding school histories that I’ve breezed through recently, Terms & Conditions is an absolute delight. The first – Alex Renton’s Stiff Upper Lip: Secrets, Crimes and the Schooling ofContinue reading “Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls’ Boarding-Schools, 1939–1979 : Ysenda Maxtone Graham”

The Hate U Give : Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas My rating: 5 of 5 stars This is remarkable. The debut novel from Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give is a ferociously crafted and brilliant and startling novel. It’s hard to not exhaust myself of superlatives for it but it is something else. I’m often a little nervousContinue reading “The Hate U Give : Angie Thomas”

Shocks for the Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

Shocks for the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 4 of 5 stars There’s a point somewhere around Peggy that the Chalet School series seems to start to mark time a little. The novelty of the Island setting has worn off, a batch of eminent faces have been shipped off to the OberlandContinue reading “Shocks for the Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

Courage Mountain, or the one where Heidi falls in love with Charlie Sheen

It’s been a while since I read Heidi but I have some fairly solid memories of it. Mountains. Goodness. Goats. That sort of jazz. It was with interest then that I came across a film called Courage Mountain which was a sequel to Heidi, but involving an Italian boarding school and the advent of WorldContinue reading “Courage Mountain, or the one where Heidi falls in love with Charlie Sheen”

The Calling – Endgame #1 : James Frey

The Calling by James Frey My rating: 1 of 5 stars     The reviewer sat down. She opened up her laptop. She navigated to Goodreads. She typed in the title. She found the book. She rated it one star. She paused. She had not enjoyed The Calling. She had found it somewhat challenging, complex,Continue reading “The Calling – Endgame #1 : James Frey”

Talking Mobile Fictions, Digital Storytelling and Hairy Maclary with Alastair Horne

Originally posted on Big boots and adventures :
I’m privileged to be able to share something special with you today. This is an interview I did with Alastair Horne about his PhD research. Alastair is looking at the role of digital devices in fiction and how they’re affecting the relationships between author, text and reader. His…

Wuthering Heights : Emily BrontĂ«

Wuthering Heights by Emily BrontĂ« My rating: 2 of 5 stars It’s odd, sometimes, how a book holds a consciousness in your brain before you have ever read a single page of it. Wuthering Heights is embedded somewhere in there, somewhere near Kate Bush and somewhere near the moorland that turns to grey and steelContinue reading “Wuthering Heights : Emily BrontĂ«”

Prisoner of Night & Fog : Anne Blankman

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman My rating: 2 of 5 stars Prisoner of Night and Fog is set in extraordinary, awful times. It’s 1930s Munich and Gretchen MĂĽller has grown up under the protection of her Uncle ‘Dolf’. ‘Dolf’ is Adolf Hitler and Gretchen is his beloved pet. The daughter of aContinue reading “Prisoner of Night & Fog : Anne Blankman”

The Girl’s Companion (ed.) Mary A. Carson

The Girl’s Companion by Mary A. Carson My rating: 5 of 5 stars It’s hard to tell you how much I love this book. I think we begin with what it this book is; it’s a fairly solid text split into a series of chapters, covering a range of things that Respectable Girls might likeContinue reading “The Girl’s Companion (ed.) Mary A. Carson”

Wild Animals of the North : Dieter Braun

Wild Animals of the North by Dieter Braun My rating: 5 of 5 stars The latest step on my Carnegie / Kate Greenaway catch up is Wild Animals of the North by Dieter Braun. Genuinely a little bit breathtaking, this is something rather special.The conceit is simple and easy to grasp: Braun lists a selectionContinue reading “Wild Animals of the North : Dieter Braun”

Picture books, art, and the appreciation of things

I have a passion project. Thanks to Facebook, and my inability to hold onto a USB stick for more than thirty second without losing it, I have started to gather an album of picture book images. The curation method for these is simple, eccentric. I have to like it. I have to be able to talk aboutContinue reading “Picture books, art, and the appreciation of things”

Evie’s Ghost : Helen Peters

Evie’s Ghost by Helen Peters My rating: 4 of 5 stars I have a story to tell you about this. I was chatting with one of my lovely librarian colleagues about the books I was going to review and mentioned ‘Evie’s Ghost’. It turned out that her daughter had adored Peters’ The Secret Hen HouseContinue reading “Evie’s Ghost : Helen Peters”

The Jamie Drake Equation : Christopher Edge

The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge My rating: 5 of 5 stars There’s a lot to love about The Jamie Drake Equation. It’s not only a book that twists something quite classic and contemporary together, delivering a science fiction story driven by smartphones and astronaut dads, but it also sensitively and truthfully deals withContinue reading “The Jamie Drake Equation : Christopher Edge”

Orangeboy : Patrice Lawrence

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence My rating: 4 of 5 stars Orangeboy is one of those books which begin a long time before you read it. Take a moment and look at that front cover, that stark brilliant splash of vibrant colour that spills against the white background. It is an amazing piece of design and,Continue reading “Orangeboy : Patrice Lawrence”

Horrible Bear! : Ame Dyckman & Zachariah OHora

Horrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman My rating: 4 of 5 stars There’s a lot to love about this vibrant and carefully pitched picture book. Horrible Bear! is the story of a girl who is out flying her kite one day. The string snaps and the kite falls into the cave of a very big andContinue reading “Horrible Bear! : Ame Dyckman & Zachariah OHora”

Girl Online – Going Solo : Zoe Sugg

Girl Online Going Solo by Zoe Sugg My rating: 4 of 5 stars This, the third in Zoe ‘Zoella’ Sugg’s series of young adult novels, solidified something for me. I’ve written about her her work before, and about the frustrating tendency for the media to leap onto her as a scapegoat for all that isContinue reading “Girl Online – Going Solo : Zoe Sugg”

Children’s literature and the great ‘oh’

This post marks the debut of a new series on this blog, namely a collection of longer and more in-depth pieces. Long-reads, essays, that sort of thing. They will be able to be read in sequence or in isolation, and I hope they’ll help to shed some light on children’s literature. And on tigers.  LetContinue reading “Children’s literature and the great ‘oh’”

Dragon’s Green : Scarlett Thomas

Dragon’s Green by Scarlett Thomas My rating: 4 of 5 stars Dragon’s Green is a really intriguing book and one that I sort of thought I wouldn’t like and then really rather did. It reaches in a thousand different directions, some more successfully than others, and when it hits, it’s utterly wonderful. So, a plotContinue reading “Dragon’s Green : Scarlett Thomas”

Talking politics

In an increasingly visible year, full of increasingly visible and often questionable political rhetoric, I’ve been looking for resources that help us explain this to children. It’s easy to underestimate what a child knows of society, and it’s easy to not discuss this sort of thing. Childhood is childhood and I get the precious protectionContinue reading “Talking politics”

Inside, Outside, Upside, Down : Yasmeen Ismail

Inside, Outside, Upside Down by Yasmeen Ismail My rating: 4 of 5 stars There’s a lot to like about this charming sequence of activity books from Ismail and I think a lot of centres on the value of an unfinished line. Take a look, next time you’re somewhere bookish, at a similar book, maybe oneContinue reading “Inside, Outside, Upside, Down : Yasmeen Ismail”

Judith Kerr’s Creatures : Judith Kerr

Judith Kerr’s Creatures by Judith Kerr My rating: 5 of 5 stars It’s hard to define how beautiful a book this when you’re typing a review in that thick haze you get after crying, but I shall. I shall try. I love Judith Kerr. There are a handful of authors that I cling to inContinue reading “Judith Kerr’s Creatures : Judith Kerr”

The Lost Staircase : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

The Lost Staircase by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer My rating: 4 of 5 stars I rather love this slim, eccentric story that doesn’t quite know what it’s meant to be. I came to it from the Chalet School series which sees two of the characters from The Lost Staircase attend the school. It’s a bravura stepContinue reading “The Lost Staircase : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen : Hope Nicholson

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History by Hope Nicholson My rating: 4 of 5 stars Due out in May, this is one of those books that I want to write about now and talk about now because it’s great. Simple as that; I have been looking for books andContinue reading “The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen : Hope Nicholson”

Girl In Dior : Anne Goetzinger

Girl in Dior by Annie Goetzinger My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’ve been treating myself recently to a wallow in the things I love. (As everyone should do, no?). One of these has been reading about mid-century fashion and France; I am a Francophile and there is nothing better than nibbling the edge fromContinue reading “Girl In Dior : Anne Goetzinger”

A Brush With The Past : Shirley Hughes

A Brush With the Past: 1900 – 1950 The Years that Changed our Lives by Shirley Hughes My rating: 5 of 5 stars It was upon reading this that I came to realise something about Shirley Hughes and that is the great genuine humanity of her artwork. I have spoken before about how much IContinue reading “A Brush With The Past : Shirley Hughes”

The Journey : Francesca Sanna

The Journey by Francesca Sanna My rating: 5 of 5 stars The Journey is something rather special and painfully beautiful; it’s a picture book which retells the journey of a nameless family of refugees. Told in a mixture of calm double page spreads, and singular pages, the family have to leave their home after theContinue reading “The Journey : Francesca Sanna”

Username Evie : Joe Sugg

Username: Evie by Joe Sugg My rating: 2 of 5 stars Created by the ‘Sugg Squad’, and led by Joe Sugg who ‘created the storyline and characters and directed the project’; Username: Evie is a complex and often frustrating read. Yet, it’s equally important to note that it is a graphic novel with its heartContinue reading “Username Evie : Joe Sugg”

2016 : the year in children’s literature

“Wasn’t it good?” The sound of Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson slide into my ears as I settle down to write this look back at the bookish year, and they’re more of an appropriate soundtrack than I originally thought they were. 2016 has been a year, a whole hefty stomach punch of a year, and yetContinue reading “2016 : the year in children’s literature”

How to make the perfect film : take one small brown bear…

It’s not easy to make a children’s film. It’s not easy to do anything with or for children (parents, I can see you nodding in the back there) because of the sheer breadth of childhood experience that is out there. Articulating a story is easy when it’s for yourself; articulating a story that reaches outContinue reading “How to make the perfect film : take one small brown bear…”

Transformers Robots In Disguise : Where Crown City Comes to Life

Transformers: Robots in Disguise: Where Crown City Comes to Life by Caroline Rowlands My rating: 5 of 5 stars There’s something rather wonderful about a book which elicits a “Whoah” from everyone you show it to. Transformers : Robots in Disguse : Where Crown City Comes To Life is a non-fiction media tie-in with oneContinue reading “Transformers Robots In Disguise : Where Crown City Comes to Life”

“She has torn yet another dress”: Reflections on being a book collector

It’s hard to pinpoint where you fell in love with something when you have been in love with that something for a while. I don’t remember my first book, nor my first library, nor my first story. I remember beats in my journey of literacy, of reading; moments that echo in my heart and singContinue reading ““She has torn yet another dress”: Reflections on being a book collector”

What is Red? : Suzanne Gottlieb & Vladimir Bobri

What Is Red? by Suzanne Gottlieb My rating: 4 of 5 stars Recently republished by the blessed Bodleian Library, What is Red? is a charming and rather beautiful book. It’s a simple journey through a series of colours framed around a question and answer dialogue: “What is Red? / Red is the colour of manyContinue reading “What is Red? : Suzanne Gottlieb & Vladimir Bobri”

The Farmer and the Fairy and other stories : Elizabeth Clark

The Farmer and the Fairy: And Other Stories by Elizabeth Clark My rating: 3 of 5 stars ‘The Farmer and The Fairy and other stories’ is a beautifully produced volume of Elizabeth Clark’s folkloric stories. Drawn from a variety of cultures, these stories range from ‘Yogodagu and the Bees of Yamato’ through to ‘The TaleContinue reading “The Farmer and the Fairy and other stories : Elizabeth Clark”

On “beautiful girls”, bookclubs and Zoella

Zoe ‘Zoella’ Sugg is a vlogger. She is incredibly successful at what she does and regularly posts videos on Youtube covering beauty, fashion and general lifestyle topics. She is the author of Girl, Online, a book with a controversy of its own regarding the authorship, and which I reviewed here. It is a charming, andContinue reading “On “beautiful girls”, bookclubs and Zoella”

The politics of children’s literature; patterns, voice, ideology

Where are we in this year, this year that’s seen the paradigm shift, this year of evenings where everything made sense and then mornings where it didn’t, this year of hope and of fear and of confusion and of sheer raw confusion, confusion, confusion, where are we now? I have written about this before, fogged,Continue reading “The politics of children’s literature; patterns, voice, ideology”