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Category Archives: Children’s Literature

It’s Fun to Stay at the YEAG!

This blog post should have gone out yesterday but the internet was inexplicably down for a while so belatedly this is coming out today:

Not content with just one avenue of helping children, I am now helping promote an annual book – familiar to some of you – that encourages children to read, get into Sci-Fi, use their imaginations, and to be more literate which makes for a better society in general.

it has been good to get back in touch with Dreaming Robot Press who have been kind enough to send me an advanced copy of the upcoming anthology, The Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide 2018.  For those of you that don’t know, the YEAG is a book that aims to be inclusive of all, sometimes drop in subtle morals and most of all give children the passion for books and exploring their minds.

With such an unlimited scope for stories, each adventure promises to be a joy and my review of last year’s 2017 YEAG will give you a taster of the sort of thing you can expect, as I delve into the new one.  For now though the Kickstarter campaign, although having reached its target and soon to close is still worth checking out if you feeling like sharing the love and helping to support this project, head on over to their Kickstarter page.  Your contribution is appreciated.

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Posted by on 12/07/2017 in Children's Literature, Sci-Fi

 

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The Lyons Orphanage – Charlie King

Sam Watkins, an orphaned young teenager, possesses the ability to read the minds of almost everyone he meets.

Howard Lyons, the owner of the orphanage where Sam has lived since he was a baby, has been reluctant to let Sam leave the orphanage.

Unable to read the mind of Mr Lyons, he takes it upon himself to investigate the reasons behind the owner’s decisions and learn more about the origin of his ability, his parents and the potential of his power.

However, Sam’s investigation and mind-reading abilities reveal a power struggle at the top of a faltering orphanage between Mr. Lyons and his assistant Natalie.

Sam’s involvement in this conflict leads him to look for ways to save the orphanage and uncover the true motivations of both the owner and his assistant while trying to learn about his past.

Orphanages don’t seem to pop up in the books I read very often – unless a it’s a grim Dickensian version, that is – so it was a refreshing backdrop for a story.  I had no idea what to expect from it really and by the end I knew I would never expect what I did get from it.  That’s all the hints you will get plot wise as it is fun to discover where it branches off from your expectations.

From the outset there was plenty of character building and this foundation really allows the reader to get invested in the plot.  All this does well to build up a fast paced story where what the characters do and think matters, leading to an ending where all the threads all come together in a pleasingly dramatic fashion.

Main protagonist Sam is a very mature thirteen year old, perhaps too mature for his age but owing to his circumstances, this is perhaps a case of me not understanding the emotional complexities of an orphan.  Not that this was a negative point, it was refreshing to see kids with strong personalities having serious conversations without then resorting to lying about a hurting scar as one book series that-shall-not-be-named did so tiresomely. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 29/06/2017 in Children's Literature, Fiction

 

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2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide

itsfuntostayattheyeagNature gets to eat its mistakes, but we have to live with ours

Having forgotten about this review after the upheaval of last year’s end, I belatedly bring you this review, after a badly needed editing session.

This latest anthology (and my first foray into the YEAG series) is packed with 24 multifarious stories.  In a universe where anything can happen, the scope will really appeal to children who no doubt already love their science fiction with so much good stuff about in plenty of mediums.

Getting children reading is always rewarding both for themselves and in the wider view a more literate society.  Having heroes their own age, who they can relate to and imagine themselves in such situations will definitely fuel their passion for books and adventure.

The Dreaming Robot Press page states that, Our characters are white, black, asian, latino. Human and robot. Everyone belongs here. Add in people with handicaps as well and this is a truly inclusive mix. I did find the book heavily weighted to female protagonists which makes sense as there is an under representation of both female authors and female protagonists in the genre.  The boy in me would have perhaps wished for a bit more balance but there is enough choice for me out there already and it was refreshing to read about female characters and their escapades for a change.

The variation is pleasing and has plenty of depth with the different styles of writing and setting, there is something to suit all tastes and also a lot of scope here to feed a child’s imagination and to encourage them to write and read more.  The stories also have a social aspect, exploring what it is like to be seen as different, coping with illness as well as displaying determination, loyalty, and all that good stuff too. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 20/01/2017 in Children's Literature, Sci-Fi

 

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The Tale of Rickety Hall – Penny Dolan

ricketyOrphaned Jonas Jones is cold and tired, and oh so hungry. And without his little dog Scraps he’d be desperately lonely, too. So when dastardly Megrim the dog catcher and his sidekick Filch decide they’re going to get rid of Scraps, Jonas knows he must do everything he can to stop them.Even if that means going for help at Rickety Hall, the spooky old house on the hill-inside which no one’s ever dared to venture.

Having just finished A Dance to the Music of Time:  Summer – a review of which will be coming soon – I decided a break from anything too heavy was needed and as I want to review more children’s books this year, it made sense to pick something light up.

This short tale, with a good number of illustrations crammed in for good measure is full of good messages for the young ‘uns, whilst also dealing with the cruel side of some people.

Protagonists Jonas and Scraps are likeable enough, not particularly fleshed out, as one isn’t when homeless but Scraps being an animal is always going to be a delight for the reader.  Being aimed at youngsters, Megrim and Filch whilst thoroughly odious are given a touch of the comedic to take the edge off so they aren’t too sinister; which is good as children may have found the animal cruelty a little too much to stomach otherwise,

The story centres on the mystery of Rickety Hall which is a great name even before you can make the connection with why it may so be named.  The mysteries don’t stop there as another mystery is presented soon after to keep the attention of the reader assured until the end. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 17/01/2017 in Children's Literature

 

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East of the East Wind – Nils-Johan Jørgensen

EasterThis is the second collection of illustrated tales by the author of North of the North Wind. It has four stories and will delight imaginative children everywhere. The tender and touching ‘A Snow Ballerina in a Red Cap’ is set in the haunting marshy landscape that is home to the Japanese crane. The young Izumi learns about the cranes from her grandmother and befriends a baby crane. They grow up together, dance together. When she is older, Izumi goes to the city to become a maiko. Years later she returns to the marsh, is reunited with her old friend and dances with her – but all too briefly. ‘Monty and Mozart’ shows us a dog’s life – from a dog’s viewpoint. It has a little sting in the tail. In ‘Barbed Wire’ a young boy comes to understand what ‘the enemy’ means. The island where he lives is occupied, his school closed down and fenced around with barbed wire. Later it becomes a camp with prisoners. The boy tries to make contact with one – the outcome is ambiguous. ‘My Cinema’ – the magic of the silver screen in an incongruous setting, but real nonetheless to a small boy. These are four beautifully crafted but very different stories, which share their author’s qualities of knowledge, insight and compassion.

The blurb covers the stories in enough detail for me to not need to, which always makes for an interesting spoiler avoiding challenge for the book reviewer.  Luckily for you this intrepid reader has managed to do just that whilst sat in a coffee shop surrounded by all those novelists, readers of bestsellers and that token annoying child who causes havoc.

Throughout the book we are treated to all aspects of life, the good, bad and indifferent but above all a message there is the constant message to appreciate what we have when we have it.

A Snow Ballerina in a Red Cap is a story of growing up, loss and nature.  It’s sure to illicit many questions from children and despite its melancholy air, it is a strong start to the book.  The joys and sadness of time moving on, of nothing staying the same and growing up are all great life lessons and Izumi is a wonderful character who has that incisive logic that children seem to innately possess.  A beautiful and touching story.

Monty and Mozart is something different, a life viewed through the eyes of a dog.  Like a child, Monty is innocent and has no understanding of the decisions made around him but places his trust and love in his family.  This short chronicle about their lives together is perhaps my least favourite of the four but at the same time it has, for me the most emotionally satisfying ending. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 29/03/2016 in Children's Literature

 

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Dark Fey: Standing In Shadows – Cynthia Morgan

FeymanjiIf you haven’t read Dark Fey: The Reviled then this synopsis for book two is going to contain a shedload of spoilers that you may want to avoid, however the review itself won’t divulge any plot information that will ruin your reading pleasure.

Gairynzvl escaped captivity among the DemonFey who had abducted him as a child through a daring act of treason and was rescued by Light Loving Fey. Now, he wants to return into the dark realm of The Reviled to attempt a rescue of the innocent childfey trapped there.
It will take more than one Fey to breach the borders of The Uunglarda and to slip past the legions of Dark Fey who abide there. It will take magic and strength, courage and military strategy and it will shake the foundations of everything The Fey of The Light have accepted as truth for thousands of years, but Gairynzvl knows the secret ways in and out of the dark realm; he is able to open portals and through his gifts of telepathic empathy and he can find the childfey standing, waiting, in the shadows.
Slipping into the darkness through darkness is easy. Escaping out again with terrified childfey is another matter. If they are captured his band of liberators will pray for death long before it comes and their success could spark full scale war, unleashing the barbaric hatred and viciousness of The Reviled upon the peace-loving Fey of The Light.
Can Gairynzvl convince the Fey of the Light to allow him to return to the Uunglarda, the realm of The Reviled? Who will join him to aid the Innocent childfey trapped in the realm of shadows and fear? And Will the Fey of the Light risk a savage war in order to rescue them?

The cover photo is great, there is no denying that and were I to see it in a bookshop my interest would be piqued.  More of this type of cover I say, rather than those dreary copy cat covers that seem to be so prevalent on the shelves these days.  As well as looking nice, it also sets the scene for a darker and more foreboding sequel.

Like the first book, this is a fantasy steeped in the natural, of the polar opposites of light and dark and the overlapping of the two and whilst the plot took, for me a little while to get going – the characters even get time for a ball game – once it gets going though, it moves along at a pleasing pace. It is an interesting mix, the plot feeling both urgent yet also fairly relaxed at times, giving the book a more ethereal feel. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 12/02/2016 in Children's Literature, Fantasy

 

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Calling all Book Lovers and Authors to Make a Difference to a Child in Need…

Calling all Book Lovers and Authors to Make a Difference to a Child in Need…

Thanks to Michelle for reblogging another Michelle’s post for a good cause, which I have re-reblogged here. I won’t be changing my name to Michelle though unless supplied with several thousand books, then I may consider it…

Michelle Eastman Books

It’s a little early, but I wanted to reach out to all of the book lovers and authors who’d like to join me during the month of March to get quality books into the hands of deserving kids.

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Last year, I started the initiative, “MARCHing Books to Kids” to raise awareness and collect books for children of incarcerated parents. I was delighted to have authors and lit lovers from all over the world support this cause. In fact, we collected 348 books from generous people in 11 different states and 4 countries! I hope this year will be just as great! The feedback from the participating families was incredible. They were especially touched that authors signed books for their children. That was a new experience for most of the families.

According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. DO NOT own books. …

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Posted by on 17/01/2016 in Blogging, Children's Literature, Life

 

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