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This perfect little package (a cute clothbound hardback sprinkled with glittery goodness) comprises two festive-themed stories that are packed with heart, wrapped in hope and perfectly embellished with Simini Blocker’s warm and witty illustrations. Set over several New Year Eves, the opener Midnights tells the tense “Will they? Won’t they?” story of best buddies Mags and Noel, whose lives are on the giddy brink of change. Kindred Spirits, originally published as a World Book Day book, is a funny tale of a friendship struck up between Star Wars fanatics sleeping outside a cinema before a new movie opens. Certainly a must-read for Rowell fans, this short and satisfying treat is also perfect for introducing newbies to her unique talent for creating believable characters and writing romance with real-life authenticity.
Best known for his action-packed Alex Rider series, Anthony Horowitz is also a master of the macabre, as evidenced by these ten terrifying tales. Take the gruesome opener, “Bet Your Life”, that sees 16-year-old Danny participate in the finale of a TV quiz show in which there’s much more at stake than the multimillion pound prize. Other sources of shock include the sinister sat nav in a stolen BMW, a rogue Robo-Nanny, a monumentally messed-up French exchange, and a deeply disturbing incarnation of eBay on which people bid to buy humans. Then there’s the centrepiece of “Are You Sitting Comfortably?”, a monstrous massage chair that serves a generous helping of just desserts to an exploitative stepdad. The stories are sharply crafted, and the writing wryly amusing, with “Note from the Chairman of Walker Books” providing a deliciously dark denouement, and added in-the-know gallows humour to those in the children’s book world. This is a tense, twisted, treat for fans of frightsome fiction, with the bite-sized narrative bursts making it ideal for reluctant readers.
In this mind-blowingly beautiful book comprising twenty-five tales, visionary artist and writer Shaun Tan turns his attention to the relationship between humans and animals in varied urban contexts. A rhino on a motorway. An owl at the side of a hospital patient. An eagle spied at multiple international airports. Giant snails declared “indecent” by the public. Dreamlike, mysterious and poignant, this is a book to pore over. Both words and illustrations lend themselves to multiple readings, each experience unearthing alternate interpretations, new discoveries, fresh ways of seeing the world. What a sublimely strange feat this is.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Award-winning illustrator Shirley Hughes is regarded as a national treasure for her touching and realistic picture books of contemporary pre-school life. This delightful anthology is full of Christmassy and wintery poems and stories all brought to life by her familiar illustrations of families enjoying seasonal delights. The perfect for book for the season.
Award-winner Katherine Rundell has already taken readers on thrilling journeys over rooftops, across the Russian steppes and of course deep into the forest. She understands absolutely children's longing for wild adventure and no-one is better suited to write new stories for Kipling's Jungle Book characters. This very handsome book, which features beautiful colour illustrations by Kristjana S Williams, tells five different stories, and with each perfectly-imagined episode adds to what we love about Kipling's unforgettable characters, including Bagheera, Baloo, Shere Khan and Kaa. It opens too with a story about one of the most interesting characters, Mowgli's fierce wolf-mother Raksha, who has long deserved more time in the spotlight. These are stories of bravery and cunning, full of excitement and danger, but most of all they are stories of loyalty and community, and by the time they reach the end, readers will be daydreaming themselves into the jungle family. Mowgli links all the stories, and has his own of course, and is exactly the same impetuous, selfish, boasting but warm-hearted, generous boy drawn so vividly by Kipling. In fact the book does exactly what sequels should but seldom manage - it tells us new stories that grow out of the originals, and enhance and enrich them.
From the phenomenal number-one bestseller David Walliams comes another collection of more hilariously horrible children! Illustrated in glorious and gruesome colour by artist genius, Tony Ross, these stories will appal and delight young readers.Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your bookshelf, 10 more horrendously hilarious stories about the absolute worst children ever! From ten-year old Hank and his endless pranks on his poor, long-suffering family, to Tandy and her titanic tantrums this brand new collection is the perfect companion to World’s Worst Children books 1 and 2 and an ideal gift for the worst children in your life! This compendium of catastrophically horrid boys and girls is brought to you by the phenomenal number-one bestseller David Walliams, and every story is illustrated in glorious and gruesome colour by the artistic genius Tony Ross. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of David Walliams’ first novel, The Boy in the Dress.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2017 Not for the faint-hearted this is an utterly gripping but also terrifying collection of gruesome stories told round the disgusting dinner table at Soul’s College where young Lewis finds himself trapped on the night of Christmas. Lewis is summoned to be the kitchen boy at the Christmas feast. That’s bad enough as he is missing all the nice things about the night before Christmas but, what makes it worse is that all the monstrous guests at the dinner HATE children, kindness, happiness and above all Christmas. Lewis has to listen to their hideous stories while all the time wondering if he will ever escape as the fate of the kitchen boy is tied up in the story-telling ritual. Ross Montgomery manages the creation of fear deftly and with just the right dollop of humour to make it delicious too. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for November 2017 Christmas Dinner of Souls by Ross Montgomery Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers Katinka's Tail by Judith Kerr Lucky Button by Michael Morpurgo Pick A Pine Tree by Patricia Toht The Stone Bird by Jenny McCartney The Lion and the Unicorn and Other Hairy Tales by Jane Ray The Song from Somewhere Else by A. F. Harrold
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | This is an absolutely stunning book. Not only is it an absolute treat visually but it's also a feast for the imagination for lovers of fairy tales and the ever elusive happy ever after. Hilary has brought her own unique touch to well known and loved fairy-tales. Fairy-tales that we know so well and yet with her refreshing, imaginative touch have been made new for us. The ten retellings including Rapunzel, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood , The Princess and the Pea, Rumpelstiltskin, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Swan Brothers. Hansel and Gretel, amongst others. This is a selection that lovers of fairy tales, old and young, will love to read again and again. Combined with beautiful illustrations by Sarah Gibb, this will be a collection to treasure. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
In a Nutshell: Sinister short stories Sublimely spine-tingling, this evokes all the dread of an ominous tap-tap-tapping on your door in the dead of night. Picture this. You rush to catch your usual train but your relief at making it in time shifts to unease when you realise that it’s eerily empty. Your journey is only supposed to be three stops, but it’s taking too long and the route is unfamiliar. You seize an opportunity to disembark, but wonder how you’ll get home from this deserted station. Then a man appears, with his dog, carrying a glass lantern. He offers to tell you stories to pass time while you await another train. At least there is another train, you think. And then the stranger starts to tell his stories, and a Pandora’s box of paranoia is unleashed. What’s common to each of the old man’s tales is an aching sense of alienation, helplessness, and feeling trapped (I think Babysitting hit me hardest, though it’s impossible to choose – more on that in a moment…), with uncomfortable interludes between the boy and the storyteller adding to the novel’s tension (amusingly, the boy is as irritated as he is afraid). All he wants to do is go home, but he’s trapped in the stranger’s game and the train won't come until he chooses his favourite story. “What’s real is what we believe,” says the storyteller. Heaven help the listener who believes these stories to be true… The writing is taut, electric as exposed wiring, and conjures an exquisitely vivid sense of dread. Masterfully macabre, this comes highly recommended for fans of Chris Priestly's chilling Uncle Montague stories, or Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. ~ Joanne Owen
In a Nutshell: Killer-concept short story collection This variety pack of edgily villainous short stories by an array of top YA talents thrills, enthralls and thoroughly entertains. Short stories regularly get the (erm…) short straw. They’re all too often overlooked in favour of their long-form siblings. But this blast of brilliant writing showcases the smartness of shorter form YA fiction and, moreover, this is no ordinary anthology. Each of the thirteen tales is enhanced with exploratory commentary by top book tubers and bloggers, creating a kaleidoscope of alternate perspectives on villains and villainy. The stories themselves cover pretty much every genre and mood, from fantasy and fairytale reinvention by Ameriie, to top class contemporary writing by Nicola Yoon (other notable contributors include Marissa Meyer, Victoria Schwab and Samantha Shannon). Thought-provoking and fun, this is perfect for dipping into, and for deepening an understanding of what it means to be a villain. ~ Joanne Owen “Readers today are more interactive with authors and one another than ever,” says Ameriie, who dreamed up this project and will contribute a story and foreword as well as edit the anthology. “The booktube community on YouTube has exploded in the last two years, energizing hundreds of thousands of readers around the world, the majority of whom read YA.”
In a nutshell: inventive | readable | hilarious | This collection of 14 rip-roaringly funny stories is a great way to introduce children to Terry Pratchett – indeed, each story is just the right length for bedtime reading – but will have appeal to his existing fans too or, as he wrote in the introduction, to anyone with an imagination. The stories were written when he was a young man working as a junior reporter on a local paper, but the hallmarks of the style that make him one of the most-enjoyed authors of our times are already clear, notably sublimely fantastic and funny set ups, that familiar author voice commenting via footnotes, and some canny, underplayed moral commentary. Highlights include an unusual afternoon in Blackbury, and repeat visits to the town of Llandanffwnfafegettupagogo! Illustrations by Mark Beech capture the silliness and fun. ~ Andrea Reece
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