BLOG TOUR: The House With Chicken Legs

Today I have the absolute joy of hosting the brilliant Sophie Anderson, author of the gorgeous The House with Chicken Legs, on my blog. She’s here to talk all about one of her favourite Russian fairy tales and what it means to her. 

House with Chicken Legs jacket

The House with Chicken Legs is BRILLIANT. My review will follow in the coming days, but I can not wait for you all to read it because it’s an incredible story which kids and adults alike can adore. Can we also appreciate that cover please?!

Fifteen Russian Fairy Tales and What They Mean to Me

The Cat Who Became Head-Forester (on the dangers of a single narrative)

‘If you drop Vladimir by mistake, you know he always falls on his feet …’

In this Russian fairy tale, retold and published by Arthur Ransome in 1916, Vladimir is a tomcat who is always fighting. He has lost an ear in a fight and is ‘not very pretty to look at’. His owner decides to get rid of him, bundles him into a sack, and abandons him deep in the forest.

Vladimir tears his way out of the sack and sets off to explore the forest. He was head-cat in the village he came from and decides he shall be head of the forest too, so walks along like ‘the Tsar himself’. He finds an abandoned forester’s hut and moves in. When hungry, he catches birds and mice in the forest, and when tired he sleeps in the hay loft. But he is not content, as he must catch all his own food and do all the work for himself.

One day, Vladimir meets a pretty young vixen and tells her his name is Cat Ivanovitch and that he has been sent from the far forests of Siberia to be Head-forester over all. The vixen is impressed and invites Vladimir to her earth, where she feeds him tasty game. She asks to be his wife, and spends each day catching game for her grand husband.

While hunting, the vixen meets her old friend Wolf and tells him about her new husband, the Great Cat Ivanovitch, Head-forester over all. Wolf wants to pay his respects, so the vixen tells him to leave a sheep near their earth. Next, the vixen meets Bear and tells him to leave an ox as an offering to her husband, the Great Cat Ivanovitch.

Wolf and Bear leave their offerings near the earth and decide to hide nearby, hoping to get a glimpse of the Great Cat Ivanovitch. Wolf hides amongst dead leaves beneath a bush, and Bear climbs to the top of a fir tree.

Vladimir emerges from the earth and begins eating the ox, purring as he does so. Wolf moves his head, attempting to get a better look, and the leaves around him rustle. Vladamir stops eating and listens. Thinking the rustling is a mouse, Vladamir leaps onto Wolf’s nose with claws extended.

Wolf yelps and Vladimir, startled, darts up the fir tree. Bear, at the top of tree, thinks the Great Cat Ivanovitch is attacking him and jumps down, breaking branches and bones along the way. Wolf and Bear run off, terrified and …

‘Ever since then all the wild beasts have been afraid of the cat, and the cat and the fox live merrily together, and eat fresh meat all the year round, which the other animals kill for them and leave a little way off.’

When I first heard this tale, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I started off feeling sorry for poor Vladimir, abandoned in the forest. But he lands on his feet, and by the end of the story is head of all the forest. I wondered if I was meant to admire his tenacity and resourcefulness; his ability to turn his luck around.

But how he achieves success is morally questionable. He lies to the vixen, and is lazy, making her do all the hunting. By the end of the story I felt sorry for the vixen, the wolf and the bear, who had all been lied to and tricked into hunting for Vladimir. However, I also felt they were partially responsible; for believing Vladimir without question, and for wanting to ingratiate themselves with the Great Cat Ivanovitch. I felt particularly cross with the vixen, as she offered to marry Vladimir simply because he was Head-forester, and she perpetuated his lies. 

It seemed to me they might all be in the wrong; Vladimir for lying, and the others for believing him. But then again, it didn’t seem fair to blame the others for simply being trusting. After all, I don’t think it would be good to assume everyone we meet is lying to us. The story made me think about trust versus suspicion, and at what point it is important to do some fact checking.

Certainly, before you marry someone, or work for them, or repeat what they have told you as fact, I think it is a good idea to be sure they are being honest. The vixen, the wolf, and the bear, only ever hear Vladimir’s story – that he is Head-forester – and accept that as fact. But if they had checked his story, done a little research, listened to the thoughts and opinions of others, perhaps they wouldn’t have been fooled so easily.

As I have grown older, this lesson has become only more relevant. The internet has appeared and grown to unbelievable proportions. Endless information is out there, easily accessible, yet still people are fooled by cats like Vladimir. Still people share information without fact checking, like the vixen. And still people rise to power through morally questionable actions.

Perhaps if we all sought out and listened to more than one side of every story, then cats like Vladimir (or Trump) wouldn’t have so much power.

The Cat Who Became Head-Forester can be found in Old Peter’s Russian Tales, written by Arthur Ransome, published by Puffin.

Sophie Anderson - new author pic

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson publishes in paperback, 3 May, £6.99 from Usborne.

 

 

Go check out the rest of the blog tour, there are sure to be more incredible stories like this one to be shared! 

Chicken Legs Tour Graphic

S x

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#EasterReadathon round up

During Easter weekend, the brilliant Kate (of Reading Through Infinity fame) was hosting the #EasterReadathon. I don’t know if I ever officially signed up… I didn’t have a TBR. I’m very much a mood reader. However… I had a VERY productive #EasterReadathon, so I thought I would share the books I read with their synopsis and short thoughts about the books! Full reviews will come in time, do not fear guys. 

During #EasterReadathon I managed to read 7 books. 7 books in 4 days is not bad going!

Book 1
The Company of Eight – Harriet Whitehorn 

(left: my proof copy/right: finished cover)

“When Ravellous’s Circus Ship comes to Minaris, Cass is determined to audition despite her guardian Mrs Potts’s disapproval. But when her chance is snatched away from her, Cass refuses to give up. She sets out to follow the Circus Ship and the journey leads her into dangers that challenge even her adventurous spirit. Will she succeed in following her dream, or is her destiny something altogether different?”

I really enjoyed this. It was fast paced and full of danger and peril. The main character was really likeable, I want to be her friend! The language was beautifully rich. I want to join the company! Sword fighting and badass women? SIGN ME UP. Thank you so much Stripes for my proof copy!

Book 2
Spark – Alice Broadway

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“Leora is reeling: questioning everything she has ever known about her family and herself. As half-Marked and half-Blank, can she ever wholly belong in either fractured community? Mayor Longsight wants to use her as a weapon: to infiltrate Featherstone, home of the Blanks, and deliver them to him for obliteration. Leora longs for answers about her mysterious birth mother, and Featherstone may reveal them. But will she find solace and safety there or a viper’s nest of suspicion and secrets?”

Man. I have COMPLEX emotions about this book. I love Leora so much. I just can’t process how I feel about this book yet. A full review of this is to come because I can’t put into words how much I loved it. The story telling, the world building, the interwoven fairytales (comnpare these to Ink and your brain will explode). It’s just majestic. I love Alice so much. I can’t wait for book 3 of this trilogy… I only have to wait a year!

Book 3
The Storm Keeper’s Island – Catherine Doyle

(left: my proof copy/right: finished cover)

“Fionn Boyle and his older sister Tara have been sent to stay with their grandfather on the remote island of Arranmore for the summer. Though Fionn has never met his grandfather before – an eccentric old man who lives in a tiny cottage filled to the brim with candles – he knows he comes from a long line of brave lifeboat men, who wear the sea behind their eyes. Fionn is scared of the sea. He has no interest in adventure or shipwrecks or the restless wind that rustles through the island, as though in search of something. But an old magic is stirring deep inside the layers of Arranmore, and it is calling out to Fionn.”

This book is INCREDIBLE. I read it in a matter of hours. I just adored it. Fionn is a remarkable young man – his progression from scared young man, to quite a brave and bold man is wonderful. The magic, the island, the mystical nature of the situation, the relationships with his family. I can’t wait for this to come out (July, I believe!) and everyone to experience this wonderousness. (A full review will come closer to release!) Thank you so much to Kids Bloomsbury for my proof! 

Book 4
Skylarks – Karen Gregory

“When she was little, Joni used to have dreams that she could fly. But these days her feet are firmly on the ground – they have to be when money’s tight and her dad can’t work and the whole family has to pull together to keep afloat. Then she meets Annabel. Annabel is everything Joni isn’t, and yet there’s a spark between them. Though Joni barely believes it at first, she thinks they might be falling in love. But when Annabel’s parents find out about the relationship, it’s clear they believe there are some differences that are impossible to overcome…”

This was an interesting one! I absolutely ADORED Countless by Karen Gregory (even now it makes me blub thinking about it!) and was looking forward to this! Skylarks explores social class, injustice and the power of money. It’s refreshing to read something where the person is a little bit more real. It packs a punch too. I love the Cooper family a lot. Thank you so much to Kids Bloomsbury for my proof!

Book 5
The Buried Crown – Ally Sherrick

“It’s World War Two and Britain is on the brink of invasion. Londoner George has been sent to live in in the countryside while his brother and guardian, Charlie, fights overseas. But the war is closer than he thinks. An ancient burial ground nearby contains a priceless treasure, a magical Anglo-Saxon crown Hitler is desperate to possess. Alongside Kitty, the granddaughter of a Jewish archaeologist, George must find and protect the crown from the Nazi invaders before it’s too late…”

This was a SURPRISE entry. The lovelies of Chicken House sent it over to me and the gold made me pick it up. AND MY WORD, WHAT A BOOK. I absolutely adored it. It was full of adventure. I’m a sucker for a WW2 book, so this was RIGHT UP MY ALLEY. A brave young man protecting something unique from the hands of Hitler himself? YES PLZ. Memorable characters and a brilliant plot – watch out for a full review coming up!

Book 6
Me Mam. Me Dad. Me

“Danny’s mam has a new boyfriend. Initially, all is good – Callum seems nice enough, and Danny can’t deny he’s got a cool set up; big house, fast car, massive TV, and Mam seems to really like him. But cracks begin to show, and they’re not the sort that can be easily repaired. As Danny witnesses Mam suffer and Callum spiral out of control he goes in search of his dad. The Dad he’s never met.”

I don’t want to say too much about this because I have a blog post coming up about it, but I need to tell you guys how much I loved it. Look, I’m a Geordie. There are VERY FEW books set in Geordieland. To read a book written by a Geordie, set in Geordieland, with a LIKEABLE Geordie main character is a rare occurance for me. This story had my guts in knots for 99% of the time. I love Danny. So much. Thank you so much Head of Zeus for sending this to me. It’s made an imprint in my heart.

Book 7
Max the Detective Cat: The Disappearing Diva

“Max, chief mouse-hunter at the Theatre Royal, is up to his whiskers in his first mystery! Max is a pampered cat, used to the finer things in life, until a fun mouse chase goes badly wrong and he finds himself scruffy and alone and hiding out at the Theatre Royal. It’s here that Max takes on his first case as a detective cat, when he notices that famous singer Madame Emerald is acting strangely. Why is her maid so terrified? And what kind of singer doesn’t like to sing in public? Soon Max is trapped in a complicated web of crime, dashing round dancers’ legs and over the rooftops of London in a race to catch a clever thief…”

The lovely Nosy Crow gang sent me this book and it was a properly fun caper. It gave me such Aristocat vibes too, in the very best way. I really enjoyed it. Super readable and interesting. The illustrations were great too! A detective cat, living in a theatre, foiling a theft? Yes please! 

And there you have it! My haul of #EasterReadathon books! I don’t always get through 7 books in one weekend, I’ll have you know! It’s a testament to how brilliant these books were that I got through them all! Thanks so much Kate for hosting! 

Did you join in #EasterReadathon?
How many books do you reckon you could get through in a weekend?
Are there any on this list you’ve read, or would like to read?

Speak to me! Comment me, tweet me! 

S x

BOOK BLOG: Malcolm Duffy

Me Mam. Me Dad. Me: touching, hard-hitting and brilliant

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“Danny’s mam has a new boyfriend. Initially, all is good – Callum seems nice enough, and Danny can’t deny he’s got a cool set up; big house, fast car, massive TV, and Mam seems to really like him. But cracks begin to show, and they’re not the sort that can be easily repaired. As Danny witnesses Mam suffer and Callum spiral out of control he goes in search of his dad. The Dad he’s never met.”

I was sent Me Mam. Me Dad. Me by the lovely publishers Head of Zeus and guys, IT’S A GEORDIE BOOK. IT’S WRITTEN BY A GEORDIE, WITH A GEORDIE MAIN CHARACTER, SET IN GEORDIE LAND. As an exceptionally proud Geordie, this made my heart so happy. It was so refreshing to read something that was in my dialect. It’s nice, every now and again, for a book to “get” youto see yourself in the book. While I’m not Danny, I’m a Geordie, I say the words he says, I speak the way he does, I know the places he goes… it was SO LOVELY to see MY WORLD in a book. 

Me Mam. Me Dad. Me tells you the story of Danny, a young man who has grown up just him and his mam (I loved seeing the word mam throughout this book, that’s what I call my mam, not mum or mom… mam). As the book goes on his mam falls for Callum, who seems like a nice enough fella to start with, but who’s not a nice man at all. He’s abusive, manipulative and down right horrid. His mam brushes it off, but it bothers Danny a lot. Eventually, Danny decides that finding his dad and getting his dad’s help is the only solution to the Callum problem… which ends pretty disastrous. 

It’s so nice to read a Geordie character who is actually likeable. I’ve only read one other – Juno Dawson’s short story in I’ll Be Home For Christmas! (Here, I’m going to keep saying this, so get used to it). Danny is one of those just good kids. He wants to look after his mam. He just wants her to be happy and safe, and who would blame him? I’d be doing the exact same thing. He’s so normal: he goes to school, has a girlfriend, has mates. He’s so brave. He’s naive and foolish too. His plan isnt foil proof if we’re honest. Going to find the dad you’ve never met? Good shout Danny. But I really liked him. I really felt for him. 

Then you’ve got Callum. That deplorable man. I just have no time for him. He’s condescending, abusive, mean, manipulative. Watching his character change over time was fascinating however. He starts as this generous, happy fella and in the end, he’s not that at all. His separate relationships with Danny and Danny’s mam are interesting – shouldn’t he treat her with the respect someone deserves who you love? Well, you’d think. 

I really liked the family element to this book. You see Danny’s mam’s family, Danny’s dad’s new life and Callum’s family. All 3 very different. All bringing different vibes to the book. 

This books deals with dark topics I can’t deny that. There are scenes which are really hard to read. There’s moments where my heart hurt for Danny. I say this but there’s also a lightness about it. Finding yourself, finding your family, standing up for what’s right, teenage naivety. I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone and anyone. 

I hope this just inspires more Geordie books, because I endorse this massively. 

My goodreads review:
A Geordie voice? A tough topic? A book which will make your gut wrench but also make you laugh at times? 
I’ll keep going on about this BUT ITS SO NICE TO READ SOMETHING IN MY DIALECT. Man, we need more Geordie MCs. This was just so refreshing.

So yes, if you can, please go out and buy this/request it from your library. It’s so brilliant, it’s hard-hitting and it’s authentic. We need more voices like Danny’s (and not just the Geordie voices!). 

Have you read Me Mam. Me Dad. Me?
Would you like to see more books in different dialects?

Let me know in the comments! 

S x

Bank Holiday Book Tag

My lovely friend Cora (over at TeaPartyPrincess) created this tag, centred around things we usually do around Bank Holiday!

Have a lie in: which book could you lounge in bed with all morning?Image result for the scarecrow queenThe Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury. It just is magnificent. I love Twylla’s progression. If I could be left in bed wtih all 3 of the series, that would be magnificent.

Oh my goodness, it’s so sunny outside: which book makes you feel optimistic?Image result for wing jonesWing Jones by Katherine Webber. Wing Jones is such an incredible young woman, she actually made me want to go running. I think I need to get Wing out again to get my motivation back!

Spend some time outdoors: which book that reminds you of nature?34992381The Explorer – Katherine Rundell is written so beautifully that it is definitely one that makes me feel like I’m outside, in the rainforest with the kids.

Make some punch.: which book do you find difficult to classify into one genre?Image result for out of the blue sophie cameronOut of the Blue – Sophie Cameron. It’s contemporary, fantasy, magical realism… all those brilliant things in one! 

Pass some food around: which book you want to share with everyone?
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Perijee and Me – Ross Montgomery. It’s one of the first books I shared with the kids at school and we all fell in love with it. I had readit during the summer hoidays and knew I needed to use it as a class reader.
Light the BBQ: which book took a while to get going?
Image result for where the world endsWhere the World Ends – Geraldine McCaughrean. I’m so glad I stuck with this book, it’s dark and grim. It’s properly good though. 
Failed BBQ: which book ultimately disappointed you?
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Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I had SUCH HIGH EXPECTATIONS for this book and it just didn’t spark my imagination like I was hoping. (I know A LOT OF PEOPLE love this book though)
It’s raining. Of course: which book would you curl up with when it’s raining outside?
Image result for the storm keeper's islandThe Storm Keeper’s Island – Catherine Doyle. Capturing the island’s weather in candles and using their power… man, this book is special.
Let’s just eat the chocolate: which book issuper sweet?
Image result for a quiet kind of thunderA Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard. Guys, I have such a love for this book it’s unreal. I miss Steffi and Rhys. I hope they make a reappearance in my life some day. Just one of the loveliest love stories ever. 
And there you have it! My bank holiday tag books! If you fancy doing this tag, please feel free! 
Enjoy your bank holiday! 
S x

BOOKBLOG: Peter Brown

The Wild Robot – an incredible story, encompassing a brilliant mash up of nature and technology

“When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz’s only hope is to learn from the island’s hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her….”

I picked up The Wild Robot because of its cover and due to the fact a few of my primary twitter pals recommending it to me. Recommend it they were absolutely right to! It is wonderful. I finished it feeling so brilliant.

The Wild Robot tells the story of Roz, a robot who ends up stranded on an island. She knows no different. This is her life. She’s a robot. She’s woken on this island. This must be home. Right? Home? What ensues is this incredible discovery of nature, technology, life, love and family. 

The animals of the island are initially VERY apprehensive about Roz’s arrival, they meet it with suspicion. Watching their relationships change and warm was just gorgeous. Roz ends up becoming an absolute asset to the islandlooking after the animals during the winter, helping them out and looking after an orphaned gosling. There’s incredible moments of shows of humanity from this very definite robot. She warmed my heart a lot of times.

As well as being a gorgeously sweet book, there’s an incredible humour about the book. I remember vividly reading and laughing OUT LOUD. I’m an emotive reader. I will laugh and cry. I will gasp. I love books that make me feel things. When kids books can make me (an adult) laugh, that’s something special. This book has humour and charm in the bucket loads. I need to take a moment to mention the illustrations too. They add so much to the story. If the cover was what I had to go off, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed! They are just brilliant.

It’s charming, it’s funny, it’s sweet… there’s this incredible balance of all things wonderful in this book. There’s a MASSIVE chunk of science thrown into this book which I thought was brilliant. So much science learning could go along side this book. It is absolutely spot on for primary schools. Our kids have taken this book entirely under their wing and they can’t get enough of it.

When I heard there was going to be a sequel, I was delighted. However, I am SO SO SO VERY SAD that the sequel isn’t out here until August though… what’s that all about!? (Lucky America getting it first!!)

Following my review on twitter, the author tweeted me after I posted that I’d read it to link me to a blog post he wrote himself about the story. I thought it was fascinating! Check it out here.

Have you read The Wild Robot?
What would you do if you found a robot emerged where you lived?
What would you do if you woke up on a strange island?

Let me know your thoughts, and we can talk about how far away August is together. *weep*

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: Ross Mackenzie

The Nowhere Emporium – magical, fantastical and sheer brilliant.

“When the mysterious Nowhere Emporium arrives in Glasgow, orphan Daniel Holmes stumbles upon it quite by accident. Before long, the ‘shop from nowhere’ — and its owner, Mr Silver — draw Daniel into a breathtaking world of magic and enchantment. Recruited as Mr Silver’s apprentice, Daniel learns the secrets of the Emporium’s vast labyrinth of passageways and rooms — rooms that contain wonders beyond anything Daniel has ever imagined. But when Mr Silver disappears, and a shadow from the past threatens everything, the Emporium and all its wonders begin to crumble. Can Daniel save his home, and his new friends, before the Nowhere Emporium is destroyed forever?”

You know you’ve read a special book when you just keep asking the children at school if they’ve read it yet. Most of them are like “OBVIOUSLY MISS”, but when I come across one who hasn’t read it yet, my general reaction is “GET IT READ NOW IT IS SO GOOD MAN”. 

The Nowhere Emporium tells the tale of Daniel and his weird and wonderful run in with The Nowhere Emporiuma place people visit, but don’t remember anything about it. It’s a place filled with magic, imagination and sheer wonder. When Daniel first discovers the Emporium, it’s just a normal building… but once he’s inside the world you see this incredible magic and fantastical world that Mr Silver has created

(Side note: as a MASSIVE fan of The Night Circus, this book is like a kids’ version and that made my heart SO INCREDIBLY HAPPY. I’m always on the lookout for books like The Night Circus… so please holler if you have any!)

I don’t know that I have the words quite yet for how much I loved it. There’s so much that makes this book ABSOLUTELY incredible. The characters, the plot, the Emporium itself, the back story, the remarkable world, Daniel’s journey… so much and SO FEW words to talk about how much I loved it. 

Inside the Emporium is just room after room of sheer wonder. People come in, leave their imaginations and their incredible visions behind, and then have NO idea they were ever there. The Emporium never stays anywhere too long. It’s like a mysterious circus. It’s like it’s very own incredible caravan that can move around.

(How I write this review without just going PLEASE JUST READ THIS! I’M SO SAD I WAITED SO LONG TO READ THIS! SERIOUSLY THOUGH! READ IT! is beyond me!)

The characters are all interesting – from the people who work at the Emporium, to mysterious Mr. Silver, Ellie, or the infamous baddie. The thing I loved most was that you actually got to know the history of the characters. You find out Mr. Silver’s history (there’s a pretty tragic story that comes with his story, that did leave me pretty gutted!)

There’s a scene towards the end of the book that just blew me away. I don’t want to spoil it, but the imagery, the imagintion and the clever manipulation of the Emporium just made my heart really happy. 

This book is clever. Like properly clever. I would LOVE to use this as a class novel. I think you could get SO SO much from it. There’s so much potential for some incredible description and some brilliant art work that could come from this! I’d love to see what kids would create as their own room in the Nowhere Emporium. Seeing the creations would be amazing! 

(I realise my review is SO RUBBISH at conveying the things I actually loved about this book, but I genuinely did love it… wholeheartedly).

My goodreads does this book SO MUCH MORE JUSTICE, in far fewer words!

Absolutely incredible. I just don’t have the words for this. The evil villain, the tragic back story, the brilliant background characters, magpies, friendship, family… ALL INCREDIBLE. Throw in a massive dollop of magic and a writing style that you just can’t help but devour and you get this special book. I need more NOW.

PLUS… there’s a sequel coming out and I GENUINELY CAN’T WAIT. Bring it on. I love a sequel. The Elsewhere Emporium, guys. I’m excited.

 

What would your room in the Nowhere Emporium look like?
HOW EXCITED ARE YOU FOR THE ELSEWHERE EMPORIUM?
Can you recommend me any other books (kids or YA) that are swimilar to The Night Circus?

Please share all recommendations or thoughts in the comments or on twitter, I’d love to squee over this book with someone! 

S x

 

 

 

Q&A with Katherine Webber!

Katie Webber is one of my favourite authors, one of those MUST BUYS MUST TRY TO ACQUIRE BOOKS FROM. Wing Jones is one of those just incredible books that comes along and smacks you in the face. When I was asked if I’d like to do a Q&A with Katie as part of the NYA Literature Festival celebrations, I JUMPED AT THE CHANCE
Enjoy guys! 
1. Where did the inspiration for Wing Jones come from?
The idea of writing about a girl runner had been bouncing around in my brain for years. I ran track and cross country in high school  and while I loved parts of it, I also found it very difficult! I used to fantasize about being a naturally talented runner, and it just coming effortlessly. So when I finally sat down to start what would become WING JONES, I had all these questions about this girl runner character. Who was she? Why was she special? Why was she running? Why didn’t she know she was a talented runner? Wing’s brother Marcus came next, and then her grandmothers, and the whole story went out from there. 
Image result for wing jones

2. What is your writing process? Do you go for a set number of words a day? Or do you just write as and when you can?
It depends if I’m drafting or editing! When I’m drafting I try to just get as much written as I can, but when I’m editing it is a slower process. Sometimes it will take me days to perfect a certain scene, and most of that time I’m just thinking and trying to work it out. I like to write at home in my office or in my living room with writer friends or at the British Library. 

3. There’s an incredible sense of “believe in yourself” in your books, is this a message you want your readers to take from Wing?
Absolutely! My biggest message would be to believe in yourself, and that you are stronger than you think you are. I hope this comes across in my next YA book too. 

4. You’ve written for children and young adults, how were the two processes different?

It was a completely different process! I really enjoyed doing something so collaborative. Working with my husband Kevin was a lot of fun, and I think for this particular project I couldn’t have written it on my own, so it was great to have a partner.  The whole process is very different from how I write YA, and I think it was good for my brain to work a different way. It is definitely difficult at times co-writing it, but worth it in the end! 

YA is where my heart is, but I loved writing for a different age range. And it was really great to work on something so collaborative. And I LOVE having a book with illustrations.

The planning process is very different. Writing collaboratively requires a lot more structure. Kevin and I spend a lot of time brainstorming and then we write a very structured outline that we don’t deviate too much from. For my YA novels, I rarely have an outline, and when I write a first draft, I tend to see where it takes me. I’m writing to find the story.  After my first draft, sometimes I’ll make an outline or write a synopsis that I can use as a reference while editing. My YA books require more rounds of edits, and SAM WU requires more planning and outlining. 

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5. How has your debut year been?

I’ve had the best debut year! I’m so grateful to my wonderful publisher Walker books, to all the readers who have supported the book, to all the authors who have been so welcoming and wonderful! And of course to all the amazing bloggers who shouted about the book and got behind it–it makes a huge difference to a debut author. I’m so grateful to be an author and try to enjoy every part of the experience. 

6. What’s next?
My next YA novel is out this August with Walker books. The title is ONLY LOVE CAN BREAK YOUR HEART and it is set in the Palm Springs desert. It’s about a beautiful, popular girl named Reiko Smith-Mori who has secrets and cracks in her heart, the boy who thinks she’s perfect, and what happens when they both want something the other one can’t give them. It’s about family, friendship, and finding yourself. 
Image result for only love can break your heart katherine webber
As a reader of all of these 3 books, I can say that they are all wonderful in their own ways. I would recommend them HIGHLY. The kids at school are loving Sam Wu, and I know so many of my blogger pals are a fan of Wing Jones. I can’t wait for them all to meet Reiko!
Northern YA Lit Fest

Northern YA Literary Festival

University of Central Lancashire, in association with their new BA in Publishing, are hosting The Northern Young Adult Literature Festival on Saturday 24th March 2018 at 53 Degrees in Preston. Doors open at 10am, with the events staggered throughout the day. Best of all, it’s free!

S x

#BookBuddy

'Book Buddy' by Emma Reynolds(Picture courtesy of Book Buddy website)

HELLO.

I’d like to take a little moment today to talk about the amazing movement #BookBuddy, started by the incredible Maz Evans (yes, that Maz Evans, author extraordinare!).

What is #BookBuddy?
The aim of this site is to help schools match up with interested donors to get books into their libraries. For some children, school is the only access they have to reading books and it is vital to keep new books coming in so that all children see books and reading as an activity that they can (and are allowed) to participate in.

Are you a school teacher/librarian/head that would like to the chance to be involved in an incredible movement that gets books into your school? Are you a brilliant human who has books lying around in your house that you’d like to donate to a school? Then sign up for the #BookBuddy website. It is SO simple. Follow this link. School or donor, you can sign up. 

I am VERY lucky in that my school was paired with the absolutely gorgeous Lisa Thompson (author of The Goldfish Boy, The Light Jar) and we have already had one box of books from her. The books have been GRATEFULLY received by my kids and they are LOVING them. Some of them are even pretty gobsmacked that a REAL author sends us books. 

It’s an absolute joy looking through the hashtag #BookBuddy on twitter – so many incredible people sharing books with Primary schools and Secondary schools. So many school libraries are underfunded (or unfunded) so to see people sharing books with these libraries makes me so happy. As someone who wants all school libraries to have the most high quality texts, and for kids to grow up as readers, this scheme makes me so so so happy

If you want to know more, you can check out the website: BookBuddy.org.uk and check out the hastag on twitter to see some of the amazing parcels that have been sent so far!

S x

 

 

BOOK BLOG: Steven Butler

The Nothing To See Here Hotel – perfectly good fun!

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Welcome to The Nothing to See Here Hotel! A hotel for magical creatures, where weird is normal for Frankie Banister and his parents who run the hotel. When a goblin messenger arrives at The Nothing to See Here Hotel, announcing the imminent arrival of the goblin prince Grogbah, Frankie and his family rush into action to get ready for their important guest. But it soon becomes obvious that the Banister family are going to  have their work cut out with the demanding prince and his never-ending entourage, especially when it turns out the rude little prince is hiding a secret…”

The Nothing To See Here Hotel is one of those great books that comes along and is just sheer fun. As an adult, I sometimes miss things that kids find hilarious (which is natural, I don’t necessarily expect to find kids books hilarious… I’m not your target audience after all), but there was definite moments here where I actually laughed out loud. It’s just one of those great funny books. The kids at school are loving it

Add to this, the fact that the cover is GORGEOUS and you have an utter winner. I know, I know, you shouldn’t judge a book on its cover. We all do it though. A bit of shelf appeal is a GREAT thing. The cover reflects the book brilliantly – an interesting mix of characters, a bright and bold style and the gorgeous hotel at its centre! The illustrations of this book are gorgeous too! They add a brilliant level to the story. I take my hat off to Steven Lenton, I wish I could draw that beautifully!

You meet a whole host of different characters in this book. From the gorgeous main character, the staff who work at the hotel, Frankie’s brilliant grandmother and the great hotel guests. There’s guests of all shapes and sizes! When the Troll prince comes along, hiding from something, bringing along with him secrets, there are a whole host of panic, hilarity and problems for the hotel staff. 

There’s a great pace to this book and it keeps kids gripped. I’d definitely recommend it for 6+ years! I’m loving seeing all the children discover it and share their joy of it with each other!

Would you like to stay in a magical, hidden hotel?
Which fantastical character would you like to meet?
Have you got any recommendations for children of this age?

S x

BOOK BLOG: Padraig Kenny

Tin – an incredible story which explores what it really means to be “human”

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“Christopher is ‘Proper’: a real boy with a real soul, orphaned in a fire. He works for an engineer, a maker of the eccentric, loyal and totally individual mechanicals who are Christopher’s best friends. But after a devastating accident, a secret is revealed and Christopher’s world is changed for ever… What follows is a remarkable adventure, as Christopher discovers who he really is, and what it means to be human”

I had seen so much positivity surrounding this book from the people on my Twitter that I HAD to have it. So when I saw it was Waterstones Book of the Month and the incredible window display at Waterstones Newcastle, I ran in and bought a copy.

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Tin explores the story of Christopher, an orphan who lives with an engineer and his robot friends, who discovers something which changes his life forever. He isn’t the person he has believed he was. His life changes drastically. There’s an incredible adventure he goes on, with some brilliantly fun and other sinister characters. His robot friends go on a mission to save him, to remind him who he really is. He doesn’t need to be a human to be Christopher. He doesn’t need to be “proper” to be the person they really love. 

There’s an amazing portrayal of friendship in this book and that was such a wonderful thing to read. You see the robots and the “proper” characters getting on swimmingly. There’s bravery from all. You learn about Christopher’s history, how he became who he is today. The book touches beautifully on what it means to be human – the robots show incredible compassion and love towards each other and the humans. That’s what it means to be human. To show compassion, empathy and love towards people who need it. 

The world building in this book is brilliant. The vocabulary is so rich and the descriptions so inviting that you feel like you’re in the world. You feel the warmth of the house in Christopher’s memories; the coldness of the room Christopher is held in; the harshness of the city. I love when a book gives me the feeling of being immersed in the world with the characters, and this one does not disappoint. 

I loved the characters a lot. Round Rob is a particular favourite of mine. He’s just wonderfully fun. I was a little bit taken by Gripper too. He’s this big chunk of metal. What’s not to love? I particularly loved the brazen brilliance of Estelle too. She’s a “proper” (a human girl), who makes skin, and she’s just a massive ball of feisty-ness. Along with the robots, she goes in pursuit of what she knows is right. She wants to save her friend. She’s brilliant. She’s a firm favourite with the kids at school too. 

Have you read Tin?
Could you imagine learning that your whole life has been a whole lie?
What would you do if your friend was taken?

Talk to me! Send me a postcard, a tweet or a comment. 

S x