I'm very excited to be a part of the Ogress & The Orphans blog tour this March!
Kelly Barnhill is a master storyteller that will hook you in from word one.
After a devastating blaze destroys the library in the picturesque town of Stone-in-the-Glen, everyone is up in arms but nobody knows who to blame, really.
Fear and paranoia began to creep into this once welcoming and trustful place. Now, outsiders aren't as welcome as they used to be.
When a kind-hearted Ogress takes up residence in an abandoned house near the edge of Stone-On-Glen, people become even more suspicious. Who is this creature? What do they want? The only residents who appear to be empathetic at all towards the Ogress is a group of orphans who have themselves experienced discrimination throughout their lives. It's a sad yet truthful reflection of our society as a whole, how the seeds of fear can grow into outright mistrust and hate.
To purchase a copy click on the link below!
It's a wonderful story that should be on everyone's shelves, thank you Piccadilly Press for offering me the chance to read it!
Thank you to Zephyr Books for this review copy!
Circus Maximus: Rivals on the Track is a fantastic story full of bold characters that will stick with you long after reading. Dido and her beloved horse Porcellus are on the run. The insane emperor Caligula has put a bounty on her head, as well as Porcellus'.
It's up to Dido and Porcellus to outrun and outsmart the bounty hunters. Along the way she must cope with a huge family secret that could put her even further in danger. I love this series, it combines, mystery, thrills, adventure and epic action that keeps rolling on page after page. I recommend it for ages 9+
Recently, Annelise was asked about her five favourite female characters in children's books, here is her response:
My Favourite Female Characters in Children’s Fiction
The seed for the Circus Maximus series was planted when an image of my main character, Dido, popped into my head while I was watching a Formula One race on television. There was never any story without her. Growing up, I loved books and films centred on quirky, brave and clever female characters who found growing up as difficult and awkward as I did. Dido’s closest literary cousin is probably Velvet Brown from Enid Bagnold’s National Velvet. But there are others here with whom I think she would have made friends.
Velvet Brown in National Velvet by Enid Bagnold
I’ve made no secret of the fact that National Velvet was one of my main inspirations for the Circus Maximus series. It’s the story of a girl who wins a horse in a raffle and dreams of training and entering him for the Grand National, where female jockeys aren’t allowed to compete. Part of what I love about the book is the relationship between idealistic, brace-wearing Velvet and her stoic mother Araminty, who lends Velvet the entry money for the National from the winnings she earned as one of the first women to swim the English Channel. A gorgeous story about the power of ordinary women and girls to do great things.
Anne Shirley in the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery
Anne (with an ‘e’ as she would be quick to remind you) is a passionate and eccentric eleven- year-old orphan who is adopted by Matthew and Marilla, a childless pair of siblings living in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island. Over the course of six books, we see Anne dealing with what she perceives as the curse of her red hair, finding lifelong friends, getting into scrapes, negotiating a long love-hate relationship with her schoolfriend Gilbert Blythe and eventually going to college and beginning her adult life. This series captured my heart when I was growing up and I still re-read my very dog-eared copies.
Mildred Hubble in The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy
I loved this series when I was young, partly for the brilliant set-up (a boarding school for witches) but also because of Mildred herself, the worst witch of the title. There was something so comforting in reading about a character who despite her best intentions, cannot help getting things wrong. Her struggles against her bullying nemesis Ethel Hallow and the imperious Miss Hardbroom are relatable and funny. You just root for her all the way.
Dinah Glass in The Demon Headmaster series by Gillian Cross
When we meet Dinah Glass in the first book of Gillian Cross’s series, we see her holding out a ‘cold, rigid hand’, to her new foster family. Fiercely intelligent but private with her emotions, Dinah finds herself isolated at her strange new school but soon realises that her classmates are under the mind control of the sinister Demon Headmaster of the title. Only Dinah is smart enough to outwit him. I felt a strong affinity with Dinah, who like me, found it hard to open up and let people in, but found great friends in the end.
Rebecca Mason in the Trebizon series by Anne Digby
Rebecca Mason is a shy loner when we meet her in the first book of these terrific boarding school stories and that – plus the fact that she is a keen writer - made me empathise with her immediately. Eventually, over the course of the series, Rebecca makes friends and discovers she has a talent for tennis, which was also my favourite sport at school. Anne Digby is brilliant at writing sporting set pieces and I still remember vividly the excitement of Rebecca’s big match against her friend and rival Joss Vining. When I spotted last year that Anne Digby was following me on Twitter, I have to admit I let out a blood-curdling howl of excited disbelief and had to message her immediately to tell her how much her books inspired me.
One freezing winter's night, Max and Lucy and their new friend Joe spot a strange figure on the beach. He's waving a lantern at them and acting very odd. A myriad or conspiracies and ideas are swirling around in their heads as to who he might be. Determined to learn more, they become engrossed in local history but end up embroiled in a dangerous game involving treacherous smugglers!
Now in trouble with the police, it's a race against time to stop the smugglers before it's too late. A really fantastic new series with danger, adventure and laughs!
I'm very excited to have been asked by Bloomsbury to take part in the blog tour for the hilarious series The Worst Class in the World by Joanna Nadin. Perfect for ages 6 and up, it chronicles the misadventures of notorious class 4B. They have been christened the worst class in the world by their headteacher, Mrs Bottomley-Blunt. Each book contains multiple capers and plans by the students which often go awry. The books are fantastically illustrated by Rikin Parekh, bringing this colourful cast of characters leaping off the page. A wonderful book to read aloud, these need to be in every school library shelf, accessible, gut-busting-ly funny, a superb set of books, I highly recommend them!
Nobody in Portico Reeves' life knows he has a super alter-ego: Stuntboy!
Stuntboy's priority is ensuring all of the people that are important to him are safe, like his parents and his two friends.
In his apartment building, which he considers his very own castle, Stuntboy keeps lots of people safe, and not just people, the cat (called New Name Every Day) is super safe because of him. It's the reason New Name Every Day has nine lives!
There is one villain that Stuntboy can't seem to vanquish, and that is the fighting that goes on between his parents.
When his parents tell him to check on his neighbors "in the meantime", this is code that they are going to have a big fight. Meantime equals the "Mean Time" for Stuntboy.
All Stuntboy has to do is figure out how to save his parents along with all of the people he saves in the apartment building everyday. Problem is, all of this worry has given him anxiety, another villain to add to the list.
This is a heartwarming, sad yet funny adventure story for anyone who has experienced the gut-wrenching feeling of a parental separation. It is the story of a young boy trying to do the best with what he's been given, even if he doesn't fully understand the meaning of everything going on. I know this story will have a great impact on the students that read it in the library, I'm very excited to get it into their hands. I recommend it for ages 8+.
Set in Derry in 2016, this is the heart-wrenching and engaging story fo two teens, Aidan and Iona. Aidan is Catholic and Irish whereas Iona is British and Protestant.
Aidan's mother has passed away from cancer, his father is also gone, an ex-political prisoner, he is not with the family. Aidan lives with his brother who is acting increasingly suspicious. All Aidan wants is a ticket out, that ticket rests on his exam results which he will receive soon.
Iona's brother and father are both in the police, she has a strong sense of faith and is wary of the desires of teenage boys.
One night, their paths cross when Aidan is brutally attacked on a bridge, the entire thing filmed by Iona. When the two meet, they end up striking up a friendship that both hope will turn into more. However, is it safe for them to even be together?
This is a really lovely story, I was completely engrossed from page one, I can't recommend it enough. Having knowing nothing about The Troubles growing up in Canada it was truly an eye-opener for me. This is a brilliant story for ages 13 and up, awesome writing.
Paige works on her high school newspaper, she enjoys the idea of being a reporter but struggles with the fake school garbage that surrounds her. not only that, she's been asked to work on the school yearbook. Attached to this are some awfully mean students, Grace & Laura for example. These two make a point to highlight the embarrassing moments of others, they want these toxic moments put in the yearbook, making Paige's life even harder. In addition, Paige's home life is a mess. Her father is a monster, the entire family has to walk on eggshells around him. Her brother, Adam, is the one the family adores, but he's gone off to university, leaving the brunt of her father's insecurities and outrage on Paige and her mother. Paige's only solace is her aunt Polly and someone else, a mysterious stranger in her school who leaves messages written in red ink in her assigned reading. Desperate to find out who it is, Paige tries to find out who she is at the same time, because nobody in her immediate life seems to care.
The Yearbook is a searing look at the toxicity of high school, the social pressures that pile up along with the educational ones. In addition, it has some very real moments regarding family tensions. Her father is a brutal ogre but his sinister nature isn't all yelling and breaking things, it's the subtle ways the family must dance around him, creating prepared statements for him, readying the house before he gets home. This is how people must deal with a true narcissist, and true narcissism is a very, very scary thing to behold. Holly Bourne is a master at writing for the teenage heart in all its broken glory. I highly recommend this for ages 13 and up!
Sarah is a young teen who is obsessed with basketball. She wants to be the best, because being the best is what makes her feel like she's important, like she matters. However, she's got a problem, she's no longer as fast as she used to be. Her legs feel sluggish, she sometimes feels lightheaded, it's like her body is fighting against her.
It doesn't help that Sarah has a secret, her mother doesn't feed her well. Sometimes there is food in the fridge, sometimes there isn't. Sometimes Sarah has to reach into the bottom of her backpack and eat a crushed granola bar for breakfast. Her mother hides candy throughout the house and will occasionally only eat that. Sarah's friends know her mother is "weird" about food but they don't know how far it goes. Sarah has lists in her head of the good food and bad food, most of the "bad" food is food that her friends would consider healthy, but not Sarah, and definitely not her mother. Sarah decides the only way to get better at basketball is to lose eight and meticulously count her calories, because skinnier means healthier, right?
When Sarah decides to join a cooking competition with the boy she likes, her issues with food come to the forefront.
Taking Up Space brought to light an issue that I have had no experience with and that is a great thing to discover as a reader and more importantly as someone who works with teenagers. This novel sheds light on eating disorders in a way that is informative and never heavy handed. It's also a great story about friendship, competition, familial pressure and more. The clique that Sarah once belonged to largely abandons her because of gossip and misunderstandings. I felt myself getting outraged on Sarah's behalf, it's hard to know that there many children out there going day to day with these kinds of challenges around food. I feel this novel is a wake up call and it is important that teens and adults read it. As with all of Alyson's novels, I will be championing this one in the library, I know the students will engage and connect with Sarah immediately. Highly recommended for ages 11 and up!
When eleven year old Noah sneaks onto his sister's school trip, he thinks it's going to be a good way to get away from school for the day. Think again! The group of six children are left stranded on a mysterious island without food, water or mobile phones (long story).
Told through a series of letters Noah writes home, this is a hilarious story that will be hugely popular with our students at Glenthorne and countless more. This is for anyone who dreamed of getting lost with their friends, surviving the odds and being bold.
These children all have several differences between them but this doesn't stop them sticking together and being friends through all of the hardships they encounter, and they encounter a lot!
Through all the jokes and gut-busting humour is a really heartwarming theme plus commentary about our ridiculous dependency on mobile phones and the internet in general.
I loved this story, it's another great addition to Frank Cottrell-Boyce's amazing canon of material. Great for ages 8+!
The blog tour of the new First Names book about Einstein continues!
Did you know that when Einstein was young he was given the nickname "The Dopey One"? Or that when he was ill in bed as a boy he was given a compass to pass the time and it changed his life? Or that he revelled in tormenting and annoying his teachers and professors and even FAILED tests and exams at school? Neither did I!
Reading this fast-paced, funny illustrated non-fiction title about Einstein opened up a whole new world to me. You really feel like you are living Einstein's life beside him, all of his challenges and successes, his frustrations and his triumphs.
I also really enjoyed seeing his more complicated theories explained using illustrations and language that younger readers can understand. It's a truly fascinating read packed with information and a ton facts that highlight why Einstein was so unique, a true genius that was often misunderstood. He was someone who had pure curiosity about the universe and how it worked. I loved this story and I recommend it for ages 9+