Monacello The Little Monk by Geraldine McCaughrean

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Monacello The Little Monk by Geraldine McCaughrean

“Devil!” “Goblin” “Gremlin!” “Demon!”

Strange little creature. Strange pale eyes, so full of fear. Strange little monk, his habit black as nightmares, his surplice grubby as spilt milk. Strange little boy shaped like a question mark, who are you? Intrigue, superstition and adventure feature in the first book of a trilogy set in the dark world of medieval Naples and brought to life by spectacular double-spread graphic artwork. An orphaned boy is dressed as a monk and ostracised by everyone except the roaming wild cats of the Undercity for his scary looks and his ability to make bad things happen. Monacello searches above and below ground, determined to solve the mystery of his parents. After he encounters friendship from a little girl with a mysterious background of her own, it seems he can also bring good luck - a bringer of fortune; a wish granter. When a case of mistaken identity brings near disastrous consequences, this little monk must shake off his bad luck for good...


REVIEWS This story is very unique. It is beautifully illustrated with a very eye-catching cover. It tells the story of Monacello the little monk, searching for his mother in Italy after being abandoned as a baby. Raised to be poor, dirty and ugly, the city folk deem him to be 'bad luck'. It runs along with a great textual rhythm and the plot is simple but imaginative, moving and absorbing all in one. Perfect for children and adults. The landscape within this world will stay with you for days. I really look forward to reading the sequel. -- WATERSTONE'S. There are so many poignant and poetic gems scattered throughout this haunting tale. The quality of McCaughrean's writing is stunningly original and the effectiveness of the descriptive, emotive language, creates a multi-layered and memorable story. Combined as it is, with stylish and atmospheric illustrations, Monacello has all the qualities of a classic fairy-tale. The themes of sadness and loneliness are woven so elegantly through the action-packed storyline that they burrow into the reader's heart, in the same way as the sadness of Monacello and Napolina seems to seep into the heart of the city, affecting even the well- water, so that it brings tears to horses blue-brown eyes . Unforgettable. -- ARMADILLO MAGAZINE. McCaughrean's reworking of a classic Italian folk story reads aloud wonderfully with its tale-teller's seeming simplicity and its frequent alliterations and internal rhymes. The menacing illustrations of Jana Diemberger, an artist of Italian/Austrian upbringing, will also invite shared talk between listener and reader. Her choice of viewpoint is often startling and dramatic. The dark, crater-eyes set in the pale moon of the foundling's face haunt the pages. Only once is that face lit by a wan smile when Monacello has reached out to warm Napolina's icy sadness...Designed with such care, this layered tale will demand to be revisited many times. -- BOOKS FOR KEEPS.

About the Author

Geraldine McCaughrean

It’s over 30 years now since I first got published, and 50 since I discovered how writing carried me out of my little, everyday world, wherever I chose – way back in Time, to far distant shores, towards my own, home-made happy ending. I write adventure, first and foremost, because that’s what I enjoyed reading as a child. But since I have published over 160 titles now, there are books are every taste and age among them – gorgeously illustrated picture books, easy-readers, prize winners, teenage books and five adult novels (soon to be freshly released as ebooks).

Teen novel The White Darkness won the Printz Award in the USA, which, for this Englishwoman was an amazing, startling thrill. Other prizes have included the Whitbread Children’s Book Award (three times), the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Smarties Bronze Award (four times), the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award and the Blue Peter Special Book to Keep for Ever. Although I have only won the much coveted Carnegie Medal once, seven of my titles have been shortlisted for it, the latest being The Middle of Nowhere.

Then there is Peter Pan in Scarlet – official sequel to J M Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy, written on behalf of Great Ormond Street Hospital. I won the chance to write that in a worldwide competition, and because Peter Pan is loved everywhere, my book sold worldwide too. It is soon to appear on stage and, just possibly, in the cinema.

I can’t say I expected any of this when, as a child, I dreamed of being like my older brother and ‘getting a book published one day’.

I was born and grew up in Enfield, North London. I trained as a teacher and then worked for ten years in TV and publishing. These days, I am lucky enough just to stay home and write. I have a husband (good at continuity and spelling) and a daughter who is an excellent editor. Having studied at Rada, she is now an actor so, naturally, I have turned my hand to writing plays. (So many actors, so few plays!) Some of my plays are for schools and young people, so you can find them in book form.

My Mum told me, “Never boil your cabbages twice, dear,” which was her way of saying, “Don’t repeat yourself.” So I have tried never to write the same book twice. You’ll find all my novels quite different from one another. I’m afraid that the only way you can find out which ones you like and which you don’t is to read them. Something for everyone, you see, my dear, young, not-so-young, eccentric, middle-of-the-road, poetical, sad, cheerful, timid or reckless reader. All they have in common is that they contain words. If you are allergic to words, you’d best not open the covers.

Geraldine lives in Berkshire with her husband.

Author photo © Brett Williams U.K.

Anne Fine on Geraldine McCaughrean:

'I reckon Geraldine McCaughrean knocks the socks off every other children's writer today. Everything she does is different and everything works – look at her list of prizes. She must write in tremendous bursts. Some years, she's so prolific the rest of us start joking that the fairies come in at night to do her work for her. Then she'll go quiet, so unlike all those writers who are persuaded by their publishers to come up with something every year, no matter how tired or drab. If Geraldine has nothing fresh to write, she doesn't write it.' (The Guardian)

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Book Info


57 pages


Geraldine McCaughrean
More books by Geraldine McCaughrean

Author's Website


Phoenix Yard Books

Publication date

28th April 2011




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