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In a nutshell: heartfelt stories of home by top authors| Home – it’s a powerful concept, never more so than at Christmas. In association with homeless charity Crisis - £1 from every copy sold goes to them – publisher Stripes commissioned short stories on this theme from some of the most popular UK YA authors. They have risen to the challenge. The collection opens with a moving poem by Benjamin Zephaniah on a lost home, and includes more stories of hardship, including Lisa Williamson’s, inspired by real-life experiences described to her by young people at a Crisis Centre, or Sita Brahmachari’s story of a refugee making a home in a new country. There are heart-warming stories too, like Kevin Brooks’s The Associates, about a friendship between two homeless men. It deserves its place on bookshelves, but why not buy two copies? One to keep, one to give away. Amnesty have also published an excellent collection of short stories, Here I Stand, while David Almond shows himself a master of the genre in Counting Stars. ~ Andrea Reece A message from Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive, Crisis “It is nothing short of a tragedy that anyone should experience homelessness in 21st century Britain. We are determined that no one should face the devastation and isolation of homelessness and the next generation, including the readers of this new book, will play a crucial role in our efforts to end homelessness for good.”
Gosh, this is absolutely and completely enchanting. The moment I laid eyes on ‘The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow’ I knew I had fallen in love, I hugged the book before even opening the pages. I felt like a child again, it’s beautifully sized, it’s big, the cover stunning, it just invites you to pick it up. The story began when Jackie Morris created Christmas cards, one a year for Help Musicians UK, the words, while there all along, arrived later, in the creating of this book. The illustrations speak so eloquently and beautifully they brought a tear to my eye and goose bumps magically appeared on my arms. This is a book where you just sink into the pages, drift away on the words, and it feels like a half remembered dream. I whole heartedly recommend ‘The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow’, it would make a perfect gift (even for yourself), and is a fairy tale delight of a read. ~ Liz Robinson A message from the author, Jackie Morris: Between the covers of this book there is a gathering, of images* and stories. The words tell only a small part of what can be found in the images. These stories ask more questions than they answer. Look at the paintings and find within them more answers. The book is a harbour in which to rest, a catalyst for the imagination, and the stories are a series of lullabies for grown-ups. My hope is that the threads of stories will wrap around the dreams of others and spin fine gold threads to catch the imagination. * - The illustrations were originally commissioned Christmas card designs for the charity Help Musicians. The brief was always the same: anything, so long as there were musical instruments or musicians in it. A message from Jon Boden, singer, composer and musician: A tantalising glimpse into an enigmatic, free-flowing world with music at its heart... Music, painting and words have long been close acquaintances, but in The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow Morris has discovered a way of bringing the three art forms together in a truly organic, intuitive amalgam. Click here to read more about Jackie's inspiration for this title and also a word from Jon Boden.
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: 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
August 2016 Book of the Month This powerful collection of stories commissioned by Amnesty International features contributions from a stellar line up of authors, including Sarah Crossan, Matt Haig, Frances Hardinge, Kevin Brooks and Neil Gaiman. Human rights abuses of many different kinds provide the starting point for the stories, but despite the discrimination and cruelty described, the tone is mostly one of hope. These are stories that will do more than make readers think, they will make them recognise and acknowledge the responsibility we all share to stand up for human rights, and may even prompt readers to take action, whether locally or for a global issue. A book that speaks directly to us all, and one that has a real power to inspire. ~ Andrea Reece
If there’s any likelihood of rainy days on your holiday, be sure to pack a copy of this sparkling collection of stories written by some of our wittiest and most inventive authors, as it’s certain to brighten the mood until the sun is shining again. There are eight different stories by stars including David Solomons, Joanna Nadin, Jonathan Meres and Steve Cole. Subjects are varied and while each story is funny, they’re differently funny – you’ll find sitcom, comedy of manners, the absurd, farce and a bit of black humour too – and each one is good enough to stand repeated reading. Summer holidays were made for books like this! ~ Andrea Reece
Internationally acclaimed storyteller Bob Hartman brings us a captivating compilation of his best-loved collections of classic stories from around the world. The stories he has chosen are ones that he hopes will encourage children to be more kind, gentle and compassionate. This is a book to celebrate the wonder and magic of storytelling and will provide you with a wealth of short stories to pick and choose for story time morning, noon and night. There is also a section at the back with some helpful tips and advice on sharing stories with crowds. Each story is accompanied by bright, colourful illustrations and this book is sure to be returned to again and again and again.
In a Nutshell: Summer love | Short stories | Poolside pick-me-up Perfect for dipping into between dips in the pool, this varied seasonal anthology features twelve scorching stories by twelve top YA authors. Following last Christmas’s My True Love Gave to Me collection, this is a stunning summer-themed showcase of the dazzling breadth of current YA authors, including Cassandra Clare, Leigh Bardugo and Veronica Roth. Personal favourites include the beautifully bittersweet trapped-in-time tearjerker, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (Lev Grossman), and the satisfyingly sardonic Love is the Last Resort (Jon Skovron), but the joy of this collection is its variety. It’s a fabulous feast of mix-and-pick treats, from soft-centered romance, to hardboiled thrillers. And the pretty package - a chunky sky-blue hardback resplendent with sunburst yellow edges and pink silk bookmark – makes it an ideal end-of-exam gift to chill-out with. ~ Joanne Owen
Julia Eccleshare's Book of the Month June 2016 Ten wickedly funny and wonderfully surreal stories of truly terrible children show best-selling David Walliams’s amazing gift for spinning entertaining stories. Contained in a handsome edition and illustrated in colour throughout by Tony Ross, the worst children who are featured include Dribbling Drew, Peter Picker, Miss Petula Perpetual-Motion, Grubby Gertrude and Nigel Nit-Boy. Each child has an obvious revolting characteristic and each of their stories is hugely disgusting, richly inventive and cheeringly anarchic. Walliams has created a unique take on the classic cautionary tale. ~ Julia Eccleshare A message from David - “I loved writing this collection of stories, as I let my imagination run completely wild. There is a huge emphasis on surreal humour in this book. I hope children around the world will enjoy it, even the most reluctant reader.” A Piece of Passion from Ann-Janine Murtagh, HarperCollins Children’s Books Executive Publisher, “Children love surprises, and what a brilliant surprise to have a new and unexpected book from their hero: author David Walliams! A wonderfully Walliams twist on the classic cautionary tale, this is David’s very first short story collection and demonstrates just what a genius storyteller he is, with every story fizzing with the power of his unique and incredible imagination. And, for the first time, we will publish Walliams’ fiction in glorious colour with illustrations blazing throughout by Tony Ross. These stories are a joy and will have children everywhere reading all summer long. Only David Walliams could deliver such a wonderful book as such a terrific surprise.” Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for June 2016 The World's Worst Children by David Walliams Seacrow Island by Astrid Lindgren The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne A Stitch in Time by Penelope Lively Street Child by Berlie Doherty Fenn Halflin and the Fearzero by Francesca Armour-Chelu The Bubble Boy by Stewart Foster
Twelve mysteries. Twelve authors. One challenge: can YOU solve the crimes before the heroes of the stories? These are twelve brand-new short stories from twelve of the best children's crime writers writing today. These creepy, hilarious, brain-boggling, heart-pounding mysteries feature daring, brilliant young detectives, and this anthology is a must for fans of crime fiction and detection, especially the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, The Roman Mysteries and The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow.
An anthology of dark, powerful and moving short stories from master storyteller and author of the internationally award-winning Skellig, David Almond, inspired by his childhood in the North-East of England. It features coming of age stories on the theme of closeness to home, deftly interwoven with illuminating autobiographical pieces on the inspirations behind the fiction. It is a beautifully produced jacketed hardback edition with black and white vignette illustrations. David Almond says of this unique collection, “Stories on the page are so beautifully neat. All that lovely black print; those lovely straight lines and paragraphs and pages. But stories are living things, creatures that move and grow in the imaginations of writer and reader. They must be solid and touchable, like the land, and must have fluid half-known depths, like the sea. These stories take place in a real world – but in fiction, real worlds merge with dreamed worlds. Real people walk with ghosts and figments. Earthly truth goes hand-in-hand with watery lies.”
Reading the three stories in this excellent collection reminds one again of what an extremely fine author Eva Ibbotson was, how beautifully she wrote, and how bold she was in her storytelling. All three stories are set in Vienna, where Ibbotson grew up, as preparations for Christmas take place. Christmas in Vienna sounds wonderful, but these preparations are not without tension and even trauma for the principal characters involved. Fortunately, each Christmas, when it finally arrives, is happy and joyful, if in a totally unexpected way. Vicky, whose story comes first, is described as one ‘in whom the flame of imagination burnt with an almost dangerous brightness’ and the same can surely be said of Eva Ibbotson. Funny, surprising, and serious too, these are very special stories indeed. ~ Andrea Reece
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