Archive for May, 2010

Say Michael Morpurgo to any nine year old girl or boy and it’s bound to bring a smile to their face. Mr Morpurgo is iconic in the world of children’s literature; his ability to charm his way in to so many lives of children is astounding and I must say he always brings a smile to my (almost) adult face.

His latest piece of fiction ‘Elephant in the Garden’ is a treasure. I read it in manuscript form (feeling very important) on the train to London and was completely submerged and finished it in one journey. The story is told by an old lady with a great story to tell. Now living in a care home she has few to tell the story to, except little boy Karl who listens with open ears…as you will too.

Her story follows elephant Marlene who is at risk of being shot as the second world war escalates in Dresden. With air raids happening left right and centre it’s up to the zoo controller to shoot all the animals so they don’t escape from the zoo. Horrified at this Elizabeth, her mother and her brother Karli welcome Marlene into their family and together they face the trials of an air raid, travelling through the harsh German winter and facing adversity and finding new loves in the face of the enemy.

This book is split between two narratives as Elizabeth recalls her story and we merge history with present. This is a charming story which will warm your heart and personalise the war as we learn the story from a German family. After all, everyone has an elephant in the garden!

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‘The Incredible Adventures of Professor Brainstawm’ by Norman Hunter

My weekly meme’s have been missing for a few weeks…purely down to me being ridiculously busy but I’ve managed to fit in a few minutes to highlight this great classic as this weeks (belated) Wednesday of whimsy post.

Professor Brainstawm seems to be going through something of a revival recently, and why not? This book, not only phonetically pleasing is at the forefront of timeless children’s literature and is part of a fantastic series. The adventures are crazy, stupid, mad, fantastical, whimsical and, most importantly entertaining and will continue to entertain for many years to come. The professor is something of a sane crazy person yet there’s something so endearing and so…human in his adventures that we can’t help but be drawn towards these stories year after year. Norman Hunter; I salute you.

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I’ve got some exciting copies on my way, if Postman Pat hurries up. So up for review in the next couple of weeks are:

Michael Morpurgo ‘An Elephant in the Garden’

Amazon description: A thrilling and moving new novel about an extraordinary animal caught up in a very human war, for anyone who loved The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips or The Butterfly Lion! It’s 1944. Elizabeth’s father is fighting with the German army on the eastern front. Her mother works at Dresden zoo, where her favourite animal is a young elephant named Marlene. When the zoo director tells her the dangerous animals must be shot to prevent them running amok if the town is bombed, Elizabeth’s mother moves Marlene into the back garden to save her! and then the bombs start to fall. Their home destroyed, Elizabeth and her family must flee the bombed-out city and through the wintery landscape, all the while avoiding the Russian troops who are drawing ever closer. It would be hard enough, without an elephant in tow!

Jandy Nelson ‘The Sky is Everywhere’

Amazon description:  Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to centre stage of her own life – and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, with a nearly magical grin. One boy takes Lennie out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But the two can’t collide without Lennie’s world exploding…

Liz Kessler ‘Philippa Fisher and the Stone Fairy’s Promise’

Amazon description: Philippa is looking forward to spending New Year in the village where her new friend Robyn lives. But her fairy godsister Daisy, assigned to a new job but disobeying orders as usual, turns up to warn her that something really bad (SRB) is going to happen! What they don’t know is that a fairy has gone missing from the ancient stone circle on the moors -and that at ATC (Above the Clouds) Headquarters, the fairy godmothers in charge have a special plan for them. A perfect story for Liz Kessler’s many fans, in which humans and fairies swap worlds with dramatic and unexpected consequences.

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This book has been popping up all over the place and I can’t help but take notice and remind you all of what a wonderful, charming book this is. I saw it a few weeks ago in the wonderful Travel Bookshop in Notting Hill and now it’s just come back in stock in Waterstones. I love the cover, likewise of all the new editions of Pamela Brown’s work. Reminds me of the new Nancy Mitford cover designs; unassuming charm and class.

This novel was first published in 1941 and at the time of writing it, Pamela Brown was just a teenager herself so to say that her heart and soul went in to the Blue Door Theatre Comany’s success, is an understatement.

The book is about seven children who decide to renovate a disused chapel into the Blue Door Theatre Company and they soon discover their individual passions for the performing arts. The book is timeless in nature, about that pusuit of happiness and success and to find a place in this world where we are able to stop and think Yes, THIS is what I am meant to be doing.

I’m so glad this book has been re-issued. Now people can discover and rediscover this story for many years to come.

ISBN: 97-0955242809

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