Posts tagged ‘books’
They are many levels on which this story could be read when you know of Eva’s escape from Europe with her family but children will enjoy a good rollicking tale.
My Nanna wasn’t your regular nanna. There were no cakes baking in the oven, no large rounded figure that swept down at you for hugs when you visited and no soft purple hair that was very much the rage when I was a kid. My nanna was wiry, short and loved to tell me stories.
‘Do you want to hear a story?’ she would ask.
‘Yes,’ I would always answer.
‘Well sit down I’ll tell you a story.’
I would spend part of my holidays with my nanna in Warragamba, NSW, a town with identical fibro houses built especially for the men who were working on the famous dam. I used to sleep in a feather bed that was so tall, I had to step on a suitcase to climb into it and it was from there that my nanna used to tell me stories about ghosts.
My nanna could see ghosts, like many of the women in her family over generations. She would tell me about cousins who had passed away that she could see down the street, long-dead sisters sipping tea and men fishing in boats late at night whose hair turned stark white at meeting ghosts in the middle of lakes in the early hours while fishing.
I would sit frozen solid in fascination at her stories and never want her to stop. These nights with nanna, fired in me a life-long love of ghost stories.
I was fascinated by people who could see ghosts and weren’t in the last fazed by it. I’d also been playing with the idea of fear, what causes it and wondered whether the things we were afraid of were worthy of our terror. For this I needed a young girl who was initially afraid of something but in getting to know this thing better, found it wasn’t nearly as frightening as she thought it was. I then had to search for that other great ingredient of all stories….location. Where would I like to live if I were a 12 year-old-girl? I had it! An amusement park. The one I invented was very much inspired by Brighton Pier in England. These were the beginnings of The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen, a story about a girl whose family ran an amusement park and who, on her twelfth birthday, spies something very unusual and after a few more curious sightings, is told that her family has a one-hundred-year-old secret….and it has something to do with ghosts.
But there was someone else who furthered my love of ghost stories.
This year was the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens and whilst idly ambling through research about this remarkable author and social reformer, I discovered he shared a love of ghost stories too. It was started by his nanny, Mary Weller, who used to frighten the six-year-old Charlie with penny-dreadful-style gore-fests like those in “Captain Murderer and the Devil’s Bargain”. Of his nanny he would say, “…Her name was Mercy, though she had none on me.”
I also discovered he not only claimed to see ghosts like my nanna but he was the founding member of a club called Ghost Club. One hundred and fifty years later, the club still meets today to talk about and investigate ghostly happenings in the UK. This would be the inspiration for my next book where I would create my own ghost club and have as its most successful ghost catchers, two 11-year-old twins called Angeline and Edgar Usher. Like the real clubsters, they would go to haunted sites, track down ghosts and convince them to stop their haunting ways. So in this way it would be more Scooby Doo than Ghostbusters and my Ghost Club was born.
As much as I loved my feisty, no-nonsense nanna and her lack of fear around ghosts, I always thought if I ever saw one, I’d go running scared.
But I didn’t.
I’ve only ever seen one ghost and it was late at night when I’d climbed onto another high bed that I had when I lived in an old warehouse. I’d knelt at the top of the bed, grabbed the curtains on either side of my window and was about to pull them closed when I saw the face of my nanna. She never said anything, simply stared straight at me. I didn’t run, I didn’t scream and I wasn’t the least bit scared. After a few minutes, she faded away. I calmly drew the curtains shut, feeling as if Nanna was still looking out for me and had a deep and restful sleep. Which was probably one more peaceful sleep than Dickens had after Mary Wellar paid him a visit and began his love of ghost stories almost two hundred years ago.
Visit the next stop on Deborah’s blog tour: http://bugreviews.wordpress.com/
Did you miss the previous stop? See http://westwords.com.au/
To see all the stops on the tour see http://www.DeborahAbela.com
I have been reading the HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON series to my six-year-old daughter all year since we watched the Dreamworks’ DVD. Apart from character names the books bear little resemblance to the movie but that hasn’t stopped us reading all nine books in the series and we are both already eagerly awaiting book ten which I presume (and hope) will be released late next year.
The series follows the adventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third who we meet as an 11-year-old (and who turns 13 in book 9). Hiccup is learning how to be a Viking, which he is not very god at. His training involves having a dragon as your obedient companion which he must train for hunting and other essential Viking activities such as being a pirate. Hiccup also has to deal with the fact that he is the heir to the Hooligan Tribe as his father, Stoick the Vast, is the chief which puts considerably pressure on Hiccup to be the best possible Viking.
The adventures Hiccup has are truly fantastic and a deeper, larger mystery slowly emerges over the course of the books as bits and pieces Hiccup picks up along the way slowly come together. Cowell combines well-balanced humour (silly and clever) with truly great original stories that even I am addicted to. Hiccup must overcome the odds in a number of different ways usually with the help of his two best friends; Fishlegs, an even more unlikely Viking and Camicazi, a girl from a neighbouring tribe who is the best burglar in the archipelago in which the Vikings inhabit. The best way I can think of to describe the series is that it is like Asterix goes to Hogwarts.
The books are great for reading aloud for a 5-7 year old and suitable for an 8-12 year old reader. And despite the movie baring no resemblance to the books it is pretty good too!
The series in order:
- How to Train Your Dragon
- How to Be a Pirate
- How to Speak Dragonese
- How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse
- How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale
- A Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons
- How to Ride a Dragon’s Storm
- How to Break a Dragon’s Heart
- How to Steal a Dragon’s Sword
previously published on Bite The Book http://bitethebook.com/2011/11/10/colin-meloy%E2%80%99s-wildwood/
I am a massive fan of The Decemberists so when I heard earlier this year than Colin Meloy had written a book I was very excited. That fact that it was a kids book didn’t put me off and the fact that it had a magical world feel to only increased my anticipation. Especially considering my favourite album of The Decemberists is the rock-operatic The Hazards of Love which is a story told across the 17 tracks of the album.
A few reviewers have compared WILDWOOD to The Chronicles of Narnia and maybe in a way it is a modern day version of those stories but I personally think it is infinitely better than the Narnia books and doesn’t need the comparison. The book is set in modern day Portland and focuses on Prue McKeel who takes her one year old brother to the park only to have him carried off by a murder of crows. The crows carry her baby brother off into The Impassable Wood. An area of Portland that has never been settled or developed and is seemingly off limits to everybody. But Prue must get her brother back and with the help of her friend Curtis she sets off on a magical adventure through Wildwood, a land where animals and humans live together but where trouble has been brewing amongst warring tribes and factions.
Meloy has created a totally believable world and I was fascinated by the politics and hierarchies he created within it. I would recommend in for 10 and up only because it gets a little dark in places and a bit of blood spilt. I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to see where the series goes and if they ever make a movie I hope it’s a condition that Colin does the soundtrack!
No dragons and no time slips! I love a novel that is based on historical facts and set in Sydney. Four children start to poke around an old house and discover an underground world of tunnels. They have discovered the old mine shafts that used to give work to plenty of people in Balmain. They also find out about a world of servants and masters and of war and depression times. As they explore the tunnels they discover hidden doors and trapdoors, and encounter many hair raising adventures. I particularly liked the part when one of the four plunges down into a hole in the ground and the other 3 have to work out how to get her back out. It is a really exciting mystery with the thrill of the chase as the bad guys try to stop them discovering the secrets in the tunnels.
Laugh out loud fun! I just had to read this one just because of the title. A young boy called Dwight is a bit clueless but he makes origami really well. One day he makes an origami puppet which gives out advice. Actually he can predict the future and the best way to deal with tricky situations. His advice actually works and soon his classmates are lining up with questions. How hilarious, actually talking to a paper finger puppet. How can Dwight be so clueless yet so smart? Everyone knows it is Dwight talking and not the Yoda. Really really great fun and even instructions on folding your own Yoda.
What’s the attraction of the Renaissance?
For me, it started with the art. I’ve written quite often about the formative effect of my first visit to Florence, when I was twenty, and an English Literature student. I was free to roam the city every afternoon and, as well as falling in love with it as a place, I went into lots of galleries, churches and museums. That was when my taste was formed and I became a fan of the Renaissance (though for painting I prefer Medieval Italian, since the High Renaissance tips into Mannerism, which I can’t abide).
The sculpture of Michelangelo, Donatello and Cellini, the architecture of Brunelleschi, the frescoes of Fra Angelico and Masaccio – all spoke to me in a way that only great art can. “I know what I like” is a much-derided sentiment in regard to art but if you don’t like it you can’t really engage with it or to anything to deepen your understanding of it.
“No more Madonna and Child altarpieces,” my daughters would protest. “You and Stevie go to the Pinacoteca (of whatever city) and we’ll meet you later.” So, yes, the Renaissance for me begins and ends with the art. But then, I got interested in the history – the powerful and fabulously rich de’ Medici family, Macchiavelli, the Borgias. What a fascinating period!
And the philosophy – the beginning of humanism with Ficino, Bruno, Bembo, who were all guests at Lorenzo de’ Medici’s table. When we talk of “Renaissance Man” (I’m afraid it’s always ‘man’), we think of Lorenzo, the scholar poet, patron of the arts, swordsman and lover. And you can’t find out about Lorenzo, who died in his early forties, without learning about the Pazzi conspiracy which wounded him and killed his brother Giuliano during High Mass in the Duomo in Florence on 26th April, 1478.
So a time of extreme violence and danger, even if you were the richest and most influential person in your city. But also a time when art and literature and music were highly valued, when the whole population of a city would turn out to see a new altarpiece being carried to its destination and set up for all to see. The last time something like that happened in the UK was probably the dedication of the new Coventry Cathedral by Basil Spence, in 1963, where new works of art by John Piper, Jacob Epstein and Graham Sutherland made it into all the papers and Benjamin Britten’s great War Requiem was premièred.
So, yes, I would like to live in a time when the things that matter to me like art and music and literature have a high profile, rather than the ephemeral celebrity of TV and film “stars” and musicians and artists whose output is very unvaried and aimed primarily to shock, since the arts can do so many other things as well.
But I’m well aware that it would NOT be much fun to live in the Renaissance, even in beautiful Florence, especially as a woman! Think of the dentistry, the plumbing, childbirth and surgery without pain relief, political factions whose members stab each other in the back, literally, instead of figuratively like our modern-day politicians.
And while some of these things could have been mitigated by living in a beautiful palazzo or villa, gazing at great art and wearing voluptuously gorgeous velvets, silks and jewels, this only works if you are a wealthy aristocrat. If you are a humble stonemason like Gabriele in David, or a servant like his friend Grazia, you would be dependent on others even for getting enough to eat.
I try not to romanticise the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, but I can’t deny their attraction for me as a place to spend time and to set my books.
By Mary Hoffman
Siobhan Down had an idea for this book before she died and Patrick Ness has elaborated on that idea and written a novel very reminiscent of David Almond and Neil Gaiman. The novel is very mystical yet real at the same time, like David Almond and zany and scary like Neil Gaiman. A monster comes to call on a young boy. He has so much going on in his life as his mother is undergoing treatment for cancer that he tells the monster to go away. Nothing can frighten him more than that.
The monster tells the boy three stories about what is the truth. Finally the boy fells free to tell his own story and admit to his truth. Be prepared for an amazing story with a few tears at the end.
What is it about animals and children’s books? Particularly mice. Well these mice are especially free to do what they want. I am sure that must be fun for a child to read and throughout all their adventures they always end up safe.
Fredle though is especially curious and it gets him into trouble. The large family has one rule, keep safe. If you don’t and put the family at risk you are taken to an unimaginable place: outside. Fredle is a
cosy inside mouse. However he learns all about outdoor things like the moon and stars but dangerous things too like owls and snakes. Maybe that is what makes a good animal book for children; although the mouse is given human qualities it is still a mouse. The reader learns that a mouse has to careful of certain predators. Fredle’s story takes us on a wild adventure but ends back at home.
All safe and cosy! Very very reminiscent of Tales of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
Where do you go after The Hunger Games? Will the reading experience ever live up to expectation again? Will all dystopian YA fiction pale in comparison, forever leaving you just that little bit unsatisfied, like a carob bud or a fat-free yoghurt?
Never fear, the life of the speculative novel lives on and Veronica Roth can be happy knowing she firmly held the baton, even if – considering the mass of the genre lined up for this year - it’s ever so briefly. Rarely do I wake up and immediately move to the couch to finish a book – those first hours of the morning are premium productivity time and I chose to spend them inert?! Must be a good book.
In the world of Divergent, you’re born into a faction; that of the Dauntless, Candor, Abnegation, Amity or Erudite. You remain a member of that faction until you reach the age of sixteen, then you get to choose which faction you will spend the rest of your life with. Most people choose the faction they grew up in; the one of which their biological family is a part. The choice of faction is irreversible; once you’ve decided, you cannot go back. If you leave your faction – or are cast out – you become one of the factionless; poor and homeless. What led to this division of society is not greatly explained except that it was developed as the resounding solution to war.
Beatrice’s time has come; she’s sixteen and she must sit the test that determines which faction is her best fit (the test is an indication only, ultimately the decision is up to each person as to whether they chose the same faction as the test result). But Beatrice’s test does not go smoothly. Her results are alarming. She is a Divergent; one who does not fit into any one of the factions. How will she keep her secret hidden during the initiation into the faction she chooses?
It’s a full-on premise, heavy on archetypes and ripe for cliché and comparison to well-worn concepts. But Roth doesn’t fall into any traps, instead she supplies an enthralling package. The pace is spot-on (which is one of the elements that made The Hunger Games work so well), the lead characters are great but the supports are also well drawn, the plot and adventure is complex but not convoluted and the ending is complete but ready for a sequel.
My jaw dropped when I discovered that Roth is all of twenty-two years old. Unlike a lot of other pitches for new authors, it’s not on the proof as a selling point, which is a relief as (apologies publishers) I’ve always found it a bit of a deterrent.
Excellent stuff. Jess