I'm not so sure the boys would really have survived been metres away from a lava flow, but then the story has them back in the Jurassic era! If we canI'm not so sure the boys would really have survived been metres away from a lava flow, but then the story has them back in the Jurassic era! If we can believe that, we can believe that they weren't burnt to a crisp. And, after all, if the grandchildren ever do go volcano-touring, they'll be given all the safety instructions etc. So I just went with the excitement of Jamie and Tom (and Wanna the wannanosaurus) escaping from the volcano and helping get the silly compsognathuses (the friendly fiends of the title) away from it.
As usual, the children were thrilled by the story. This series has nice boys, excellent factual data, and fun adventures. The illustrations are great, and we have a fabulous time doing our own art and craft to sit alongside the books....more
The grandchildren were really intrigued by the cover - there they are, Ivy and Bean, tied together to a tree! "What happens?!" they exclaimed. "I don'The grandchildren were really intrigued by the cover - there they are, Ivy and Bean, tied together to a tree! "What happens?!" they exclaimed. "I don't know," I replied. "We'll have to read it to find out!"
The kids love this series and I enjoy reading each book to them. The girls are a delightful mixture of naughty and nice, just like real kids. There is no gender stereotyping (and don't let me get onto my soapbox over so many of today's books and toys!). The occasional glimpses of the parents have them totally realistic. The stories are funny. And what a great pun for this title - I do enjoy explaining puns and jokes to the kids, and it's fascinating to see what different senses of humour they have.
There's quite a bit of pop-psychology in this book. Having said that, there's often quite a bit in this series - getting into the mind of a killer, geThere's quite a bit of pop-psychology in this book. Having said that, there's often quite a bit in this series - getting into the mind of a killer, getting into the mind of people who've had shocking upbringings ... - but it seemed to me there was even more this time. I like it - looking at nature vs. nurture, looking at choices ... I also found the 'death from a distance' in this book more palatable than the ones in which the murderers are so very hands-on.
So, it's the usual Eve Dallas 'fighting for the victims', the usual great descriptions of way-out fashion (I do enjoy the way the future is full of people wearing colours (unlike the black and dulls that predominate in so many places), and with fabulous hairstyles - and these are for both males and females), the usual fun repartee (though not so much of it in this one, I think), and the regular bit-roles that pad out the backstory.
Long may the author keep churning them out!...more
This book is set on the Scilly Islands (website = Isles of Scilly during the Second World War. A lad and his father out fishing find a girl, just abouThis book is set on the Scilly Islands (website = Isles of Scilly during the Second World War. A lad and his father out fishing find a girl, just about starving, on one of the deserted islands and take her home to look after her. The girl doesn't speak, she doesn't interact with them at all - she remembers nothing.
This is a lovely story about determination, about standing up against prejudice, about the changing nature of humans, about being steadfast. We're led into the lives of the islanders and into the life of the girl, and thoroughly into the life of the times.
An excellent children's historical novel by a master storyteller....more
Ira and her brother are 'care kids', and having been living in a care home in London for far too many years. Other kids come and go, although there arIra and her brother are 'care kids', and having been living in a care home in London for far too many years. Other kids come and go, although there are a couple of teenagers - and what hope is there for them to be adopted ...?
Ira tells the story, and it's set back in 1989/90. There's a name imprinted in Ira's bedroom windowsill. There's a letter she finds. There's a holiday arranged for them in the countryside. And there are the people - the adults and the children at the home, and how Ira sees them and learns about them.
This is a lovely book for children, giving them a little slice of history and a big slice of kids learning and growing and finding their place....more
Sasha will soon be 13 and she's upset because everything seems to be changing. Her twin brother doesn't tThis is a nice story for kids from 10 to 14.
Sasha will soon be 13 and she's upset because everything seems to be changing. Her twin brother doesn't talk to her like he used to; their mother is dating one of the school teachers - they really like him, but all her previous relationships have ended badly; Sasha's best friend wants her to get involved with her with the popular girls at school, and Sasha just isn't into that scene .....
Sasha and her brother have also been going into Blossom House frequently - it's a beautiful old house that is up for sale and their mother is the land agent. The price is too high and it's been vacant for years, but of course their mother doesn't know the children have helped themselves to a key. Right from the beginning of the book we know that's a recipe for disaster.
Well, the disaster isn't as bad as it could have been - this is a gentle book. It elaborates on some good issues, and does them well. There's also a little mystery involved which has a connection with the grandmother. And the characters are all well written and believable....more
You have to read Baa Baa Smart Sheep first in order to understand the beginning of this book (and, in fact, to totally appreciate the end as well).
YoYou have to read Baa Baa Smart Sheep first in order to understand the beginning of this book (and, in fact, to totally appreciate the end as well).
You also have to be able to separate fact from fiction. I say that because a collection of reviewers of this book give it 1 star, saying it's inappropriate and is teaching children to be mean. But all you have to do is you read this hilarious book to your children / grandchildren, adding that "You wouldn't really do anything like that to anybody/anything!" Because we all have a mean streak in us, and we all have that desire to 'get back' at somebody, and we all (well, most of us) laugh at slapstick and at toilet humour.... and we have to help the children understand that something may be funny in a book or a movie but not at all funny in real life. Simple really....more
This is a beautifully told and illustrated book connected to the closure of the Spanish Riding Academy during the Second World War. In Vienna, with itThis is a beautifully told and illustrated book connected to the closure of the Spanish Riding Academy during the Second World War. In Vienna, with its famous Lipizzaner horses, the Academy was a historical feature (interesting website article here - read up about it, and then go look on YouTube).
This book is fiction, but it is set historically and is a great little adventure....more
You can't stop children wanting to know about a missing parent. The boys' parents had split a long time ago, and mother had remarried to an okay stepdYou can't stop children wanting to know about a missing parent. The boys' parents had split a long time ago, and mother had remarried to an okay stepdad. They never mentioned the gone father. But the older boy found a flyer in a shoe box in the attic, and they discovered that their father was a polar bear. Well, he was acting the part of a polar bear in The Snow Queen, but 5-year-olds are easily confused.
This is a lovely book, and the voice of the man remembering the child-he-was is perfect. I really want to read this book with my grandchildren....more
My daughter and I read all the Animorphs series years ago and loved them until the last few (which we found not satisfying). I guess it was that end eMy daughter and I read all the Animorphs series years ago and loved them until the last few (which we found not satisfying). I guess it was that end experience that has caused me to not try any others by this author since then. However, Ivan came into the bookshop where I work and I browsed a few pages and decided to try it.
I loved it! The book is written as if the gorilla, Ivan, is talking to the reader. The chapters are very short - one or two pages - and ordinarily I don't really like that, but it works here because we don't expect a gorilla to have an extremely long train of thought. It begins with Ivan telling us about his 'domain' and about Stella the elephant, who does tricks once a day, and who is not very well. As we go along Ivan gradually tells us more about his previous life, and we also hear about Stella's past.
There's a lot of sadness, but also a lot that is delightful. Bob the stray dog is a lighter character (though terribly cynical about humans), and Ivan's art (yes, the real Ivan did make paintings which his owner sold) and the little girl who passes him art supplies are a lovely thread throughout the story....more
Sue Copsey does it again with a great follow-on to the two previous Spooky Adventures novels, and we go to yet another famous New Zealand holiday spotSue Copsey does it again with a great follow-on to the two previous Spooky Adventures novels, and we go to yet another famous New Zealand holiday spot. This time it's Queenstown, where Joe's sister's friend's father is directing a Hollywood film (and yes, we might be on the other side of the world from everywhere, but we do have blockbuster films to our name and many others where they have come for the scenery and the fantastic Kiwi people). Anastasia is quite an annoying eleven-year-old (though it's rather nice having Joe revise his opinion of her every now and then (and makes one wonder if, as the children all get older, there might be a little romance in the author's mind ...?), as are all the relationships between the kids), but who wouldn't accept an offer of a holiday on set with famous actors and all that?!
There is some nice tension - what's the father's real motivation in inviting them all down? are there ghosts on set? are they malignant? is the daredevil stuntsman going to come a cropper? There's some fascinating history around the time of the world-wide Gold Rush (1860s in New Zealand) (spun skillfully into the story). There are great characters. This is a thoroughly engaging book for all ages (aimed at 8-12 I guess, but I'm a lot older!).
Ben and Fee McTavish are twins and their parents are marine scientists. When their parents go off to do some lengthy research, the twins have stayed wBen and Fee McTavish are twins and their parents are marine scientists. When their parents go off to do some lengthy research, the twins have stayed with an aunt and gone to school there, but now her circumstances have changed and they have to go to boarding school. How fortunate they are that there's an on-board option on the School Ship Tobermory!
Although working on a sailing ship is rather different to the submarine they're used to, they're up for the challenge. They also find challenges in a bully and his lackeys, but happily they make strong friendships straight away, which stand them in good stead when a far different challenge arises.
This book puts me in mind of the Arthur Ransome Swallows and Amazons series - we've got seafaring, adventure, and children working together. McCall Smith has a lovely way with language and is always a pleasure to read. I also really enjoy the way he gives lots of information - he gives it by way of dialogue and by way of speaking to the reader (never in a patronising fashion), and so the reader learns lots along the way....more
Think A Bear Called Paddington - well, Paddington was left lonely at a railway station, whereas Emily Vole (the hero of this book) was found abandonedThink A Bear Called Paddington - well, Paddington was left lonely at a railway station, whereas Emily Vole (the hero of this book) was found abandoned in a hatbox at an airport ... . Think Oliver Twist - well, Oliver was a child in a workhouse and never had enough food, whereas Emily Vole was forced by her adoptive parents to do all the housework and because she couldn't read the notes her mother left for her she never finished the required tasks so didn't get supper ... . Think all other number of children's stories with nasty parents (step-parents, adoptive, even birth), and with kindly neighbours, and with magical animals (ah ha! - read the book to find out about that), and with fairies in disguise (as it were), and with evil witches, and think Babayaga (I haven't looked at that link to see how it tells the story) with houses that walk.
Well, I've just typed that paragraph and I'm thinking that the book sounds too busy, but it's not. It's quite delightful and moves nicely from one scenario to the next.
The one thing I didn't like is that the supreme baddie deals both death blows and turn-them-into-rabbit blows, which seems to me somewhat incongruous. Yes, it's explained. And the rabbits are funny. In fact, the rabbits are necessary for the title, and to keep the book away from mass murder (which wouldn't do in a children's book). So really it's the death blows that dissatisfy. My grandson would be asking why the author has written that the witch can kill them but not them, and I would tell him that's an excellent question....more
What a thoroughly enjoyable detective novel, set both in the present day and in the past (during the Second World War). We move regularly from one setWhat a thoroughly enjoyable detective novel, set both in the present day and in the past (during the Second World War). We move regularly from one setting to the other, with no chapter headings nor even a date, but each time it's quickly obvious where (when) we are with the 'clues' giving me nice little pleasures each time. For example:
A taxi splashed past with a dirt-smudged child sitting on the running board. Outside, on the steps of Kentish Town police station, a gang of teenagers were screaming at each other. Developers had reinvented the future so ruthlessly that the London of his youth had disappeared.
The key characters are interesting, and the scene of a London theatre is fun, with the murders nicely theatrical. I'm eager to read more in this series. ...more
I've read a number of Geering's books, have attended a lecture given by him, know that he set up the New Zealand 'branch' of the Sea of Faith, and knoI've read a number of Geering's books, have attended a lecture given by him, know that he set up the New Zealand 'branch' of the Sea of Faith, and know of his work as a member of The Jesus Seminar - I have long admired him. So I very much enjoyed reading this, his autobiography. He is lucid, honest, and easy to read; and his life story is most interesting.
I feel akin to Geering in that he still calls himself and Christian and he still attends church. Myself, I chose to be a churchgoer and be a Christian some 30 years ago, while already being of the same radical-liberal bent as Geering. And I still value the people and the stories. The man Jesus is one whose ideals and practices are still ones that can help us lead lives in which we aim to be the best we can, and to help others.
That's how Geering has lived his life, and I hope I'm doing a reasonable job it it....more
I spread the reading of this book out one poem at a time and the grandchildren really enjoyed them. The poems are quite fun; the illustrations are greI spread the reading of this book out one poem at a time and the grandchildren really enjoyed them. The poems are quite fun; the illustrations are great....more
James, who is very nearly 9 years old, doesn't understand why people put sad things in stories. A year or so ago we stopped reading a particular serieJames, who is very nearly 9 years old, doesn't understand why people put sad things in stories. A year or so ago we stopped reading a particular series, which until then had been fun, because there was a nastily unpleasant part in it and James got quite distressed, asking why the author would choose to put something "so mean" in a story. I agreed with him then, and was actually quite pleased to have my cynical older self challenged in such a way. Sadness, however, is a different thing. Often something sad can have a real beauty about it, and in this case it's about a death so it's a good opportunity to talk about feelings of grief.
Not that the book is just about that! It would hardly keep the children engaged for 6 chapters if there wasn't also plenty of action and an element of humour (with the wannanosaurus 'pet') and the fabulous tripping through the Jurassic that Jamie and Tom do each time they go through the time-travel cave in Dinosaur Cove (having earlier spent several books on the Cretaceous).
This is an excellent series, and this specific book gives a slight change involving the boys' emotions and empathy. It's fabulous that the books are not simply repetitions of each other with different dinosaurs. ...more
While I was reading this I decided that this was my favourite Discworld book so far, but then I decided that pretty much with each one I read! I DO enWhile I was reading this I decided that this was my favourite Discworld book so far, but then I decided that pretty much with each one I read! I DO enjoy the ones with Death as a primary character, and of course his granddaughter and her confusion make it fun.
Hogfather is the Discworld equivalent of Father Christmas, and he's out of action so Death steps in to make sure that everybody still gets presents under their trees. Because, you see, if people stop believing in anything, then the world will cease to exist.
Once again there's the usual Pratchett combination of wit, slapstick, philosophy, political comment, wry commentary on human nature and sci-fi/fantasyOnce again there's the usual Pratchett combination of wit, slapstick, philosophy, political comment, wry commentary on human nature and sci-fi/fantasy - this time set at the Opera. And while I was reading I decided to remember some classic sentences (or two), so I took note:
He had a unique stride: it looked as though his body were being dragged forward and his legs had to flail around underneath it, landing wherever they could find room. It wasn't so much a walk as a collapse, indefinitely postponed.
Of course, Nanny Ogg could drink anything, but clever Pratchett calling a strong alcohol 'brain-death':
Just to keep bad dreams at bay, she took a swig out of a bottle that smelled of apples and happy brain-death.
Who but Pratchett would think of using the word ballistic to describe someone's singing?:
... Nanny Ogg, whose attitude to songs was purely ballistic. You just pointed your voice at the end of the verse and went for it.
Haven't we all done this?!:
'... Time creeps up behind you, all the . . .' He fumbled for a word, and settled lamely for 'Time. ...'
I have no idea if Pratchett ever enjoyed going to the opera, but he enjoys poking fun at it (as he does at so many things) - and what a very clever phrase at the end of this sentence:
The chorus was filing on to be A Busy Marketplace, in which various jugglers, gypsies, sword-swallowers and gaily dressed yokels would be entirely unsurprised at an apparently drunken baritone strolling on to sing an enormous amount of plot at a passing tenor.
Here he coins a new word and describes it perfectly:
There was a crash from the direction of the kitchen, although it was really more of a crashendo - the long-drawn-out clatter that begins when a pile of plates begins to slip, continues when someone tries to grab at them, develops a desperate counter-theme when the person realizes they don't have three hands, and ends with the roinroinroin of the one miraculously intact plate spinning round and round on the floor.
Finally, one about the mentality of a mob:
And since the IQ of a mob of the IQ of its most stupid member divided by the number of mobsters, it was never very clear to anyone what had happened.
This is the first book I've come across that has a time traveller navigate by means of maps. What an excellent premise. The map must be genuine of couThis is the first book I've come across that has a time traveller navigate by means of maps. What an excellent premise. The map must be genuine of course - no modern photocopies, nor even hand copies - and signed and dated. It's the date that draws the navigator to it. Mind you, a dated fictional map also works - as long as the cartographer believed in its reality.
The book is set mostly in Hawaii, not long before it was annexed by the United States, and it is centred on Nix who is 16 and whose father is the captain. She wants to learn to navigate, she wants to lead a life of her own, she wants her father to not get back to the time before her mother died in childbirth (giving birth to Nix).
I read the first in this series (The Blood Guard) some while ago and my daughter had this as well, so eventually it migrated from her bookshelf to myI read the first in this series (The Blood Guard) some while ago and my daughter had this as well, so eventually it migrated from her bookshelf to my bedside pile of books where it then sat for quite a few months. But something has happened - perhaps I'm finding my 'groove' again - and I've actually been reading some of the books on that pile!
Because it was quite some time between first and second books, it took me a little while to remember anything about the story. It didn't take long, however. Neither did it feel completely necessary that I recall it - a good indication that the author is skilled enough to put in what's needed, and in a way that doesn't read as if it's a recap (unlike some, that are either boring in it, or expect you to have remembered every single little thing and don't give anything!).
This series has a great pace, lots of daring adventure, and a little touch of sci-fi and fantasy. It is based on the premise that there are a small number of people in the world who are Pure, and that if the number of reduced unnaturally then the balance of good and evil is upset. This is not only the balance of people, but the balance of nature. So of course there are evil people (with their henchmen (or should I say hench-people?) who have special abilities, etc.) who are deliberately trying to take down the Pure. And then there's the Blood Guard, dedicated to protecting them.
I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series (The Missing Three, coming out this October 2016), and I'll definitely be recommending them to my grandchildren when they're a little older....more
I love the title, and the book was an enjoyable read. It's about an intellectually gifted but socially awkward boy whose father marries a woman with aI love the title, and the book was an enjoyable read. It's about an intellectually gifted but socially awkward boy whose father marries a woman with a teen daughter. There's not really any need to outline the problems that ensue ...!
I like the boy's 'voice' - it came across well. The plot is nothing out of the ordinary, but has some poignant moments and touches on modern issues. Good value!...more
Get your animal-voice voice out and have a fabulous time getting the kids to join in on this one!
I love the black background (it's night-time, afterGet your animal-voice voice out and have a fabulous time getting the kids to join in on this one!
I love the black background (it's night-time, after all), and the faces on the animals as they all climb up into the tree out of the way of whatever is making that dreadful Aaa-Ooo noise. There are so many great sounds to have fun with, and my school-age grandchildren had a wonderful time joining in. James knew immediately that the noise-maker was a wolf and took it upon himself to voice his lines throughout. In fact, when the girls wanted to join in he got upset. So we read it a second time with the girls having their turn.
On top of that there's a very funny (and sweet) ending, which we all loved....more
I was idly looking at webpages about books the other day and became aware that an author whose book I'd enjoyed recently (Conrad Cooper's Last Stand)I was idly looking at webpages about books the other day and became aware that an author whose book I'd enjoyed recently (Conrad Cooper's Last Stand) had written another couple! Sometimes I am astounded at the gaps in my education. But then it's more likely about the ages of my children (adults for a good while now) and the dates her books were published not coinciding. And if I didn't work in a bookshop now I might still be missing some great authors. Terrible!
So anyway, I stopped off at the library and got this book. What a laugh it is. I couldn't restrain my bursts of laughter - Agnew has got it down to a tee. But on top of that this book has 'real-life' characters - kids with problems at home, families that are genuine. The schoolteachers and Principal might be a bit caricatured, but that's how kids see them so it worked fine. This is a rattling good read and I'll be delighted when my grandchildren are able to enjoy it....more