Archive for September, 2010

Happy Roald Dahl Day


September is Roald Dahl Month and tomorrow, Monday 13th is Roald Dahl day. Throughout September schools and bookshops will be taking part in Roald Dahl events and celebrating everything that is great about his books.

Fittingly Roald Dahl’s biography has recently been published and is a fascinating read.

The bookshop I work in is hosting some fun events and I’ve put up bunting around the kids area to let the children know what’s going on. We got in to the spirit of things yesterday by fashioning badges proclaiming ‘I’m a Twit’ and ‘I’m an Oompa-Loompa’! I also found out an interesting fact about Mr Dahl himself…he was six foot 6 inches tall. Now I wonder where the subject of his book ‘The B.F.G.’ came from.

Roald Dahl day is all about having fun, celebrating in the crazy whimsy of all his books. They are timeless and will remain in our lives for a very long time. That I am sure of because silliness never goes out of fashion. I recently asked my twitter followers what their favourite Dahl book was. The winner was ‘The Witches’ followed by ‘Matilda’. Personally? ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’. I remember the illustrations of George stood on a stool stirring the medicine concoction in a massive pan. Perhaps it’s the cook in me, but I just love the story and George’s resilience.

So my message to you is get hunting. Go wherever it is you need to go to find your old copies of any Roald Dahl books. Under a bed, in the roof, in storage, in the garage…I don’t care, just get reading and share a story with a friend or two. The books are glorious escapism from some often heavy handed children’s books available today and you never know, you might find a nice moral in the story here and there.

For more information and lots of fun ways to celebrate Roald Dahl day visit http://www.roalddahlday.info/

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I have recently been asked by Melanie from www.librarymice.com to get involved with the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ National Non-Fiction Day coming up in November and I just wanted to spread some early awareness and to let you know what will be coming up.

The federation is a national charity and umbrella organisation for local children’s book groups. They also own and coordinate the Red House Children’s Book Awards. As their website says: 

“National Non-Fiction Day is an annual celebration, initiated by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups in partnership with Scholastic Children’s Books. It aims to celebrate all that is brilliant about non fiction and show that it’s not just fiction that can be read and enjoyed for pleasure.The first National Non-Fiction Day will be celebrated on the 4th November 2010, and annually thereafter on the first Thursday in November.”

I’ve decided to base my non-fiction reviews around the seasons (I’m so predictable) and so from now until November I will be hunting the shelves for some wonderful books on Halloween and Bonfire night…and anything else suitably autumnal. If any publishers or authors think they have a suitable non-fiction book that I could feature- then they would be doing a very good thing in getting involved in this charitable day. Please do get in touch.

This day, well, more of an event really is just about spreading the word that non-fiction books can be fun but that also, and most importantly they are integral to a child’s development and scope of the world. What’s the best way of producing a non-fiction book…should it be pop up, augmented reality perhaps? I’ll be looking for and reviewing the most exciting ones. Do check back on 4th November 2010 to support this great event.


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Alice Hart recalls it as the book that started her love affair with food and cooking and timelessly quotes the words of A.A. Milne in her new book ‘Alice’s Cookbook: New Voices in Food’ and I certainly have distant and fond memories of it…it is of course the Pooh Cookbook.

I only just realised that a new edition of the Pooh Cookbook is to be published when a friend of mine asked me about similar children’s cookbooks after commenting on my review of The Moomin’s Cookbook. I told her that although it was no longer in print, she could probably get a second hand copy online and it was well worth the investment. After having a look myself online, I realised a new book written by Virginia Ellison is due to be published in October 2010.

The book features original illustrations by the nostalgia inducing E.H. Shepard and I just know it will be as charming as its predecessor as the very first illustrations of Pooh bear and all his friends are used.

This gives an indication that it will be all about nostalgia, about finding yourself in the heart of the home, having fun with your friends and making an absolute glorious mess in the kitchen.

Like The Moomin’s Cookbook, it is published by a small, independent publisher (Dutton Books) and I hope they too take as much care in preserving the charm and wisdom of Pooh bear as SelfMadeHero did for MoominMamma!

So with the influx of nostalgic cookery books taking us back to our childhood, this got me thinking how much we need that sense of belonging and family at the moment.

Where better place to get it than from our childhood and where better place to recreate it, than in our kitchens?

The Winnie-the Pooh Cookbook (the original published in the 1970’s was called The Pooh Cookbook) will be published by Dutton Books in hardback on 14th October 2010 RRP £12.99

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After the success of the original ‘Saga of Darren Shan’ and the subsequent ‘Demonata’ series, Darren Shan goes back to where it all began in book one of ‘The Saga of Larten Crepsley’.

I’ve had this review copy for a while now, and it took me a long time to work through my pile of ‘to-read’ books but I’m glad I finally got to it. Honestly, I’ve always written off Darren Shan books as for boys only so I started this book with some apprehension, especially as I hadn’t read his previous books.

There really was no need to worry. In fact, this book is probably a good place to start for those who want to know a little bit about infamous vampire Larten Crepsley. Consider it a prequel of sorts…I started the book with great anticipcation and preconceptions about this vampire figure. I mean, with a name like that he just sounds like some distinguished character challenging Dracula for the title of most notorious vampire.

But the book is more than that and you really learn a lot about Larten and where he came from, giving the premise of the book some context. So often is the case with many vampire fiction books, that we are just thrown into the deep end and just expected to accept everything about vampires, that it all gets too much. But this is a thrilling read as Larten escapes a horrible workhouse where he lives. From there he meets another vampire, with an equally suspicious name; Seba Nile and eventually joins a vampire clan with whom he embarks on a journey, becoming more of a vampire every day, but once you’re in, there’s no backing out.

What a great book! You get to travel  with Larten and the other vampires, and learn everything about him even before he’s learnt it himself. Boys, of course will love this book, especially those who are already fans of Darren Shan. But I think a lot of new people will discover this book and find it the perfect opportunity to get stuck into them. If this review isn’t enough to persuade you, just look at the cover. I love it, full of mystery, intrigue and adventure and it just draws you in.

This book is published in hardback, 30th September 2010 9780007315857 RRP is £12.99 although I suspect many retailers will sell it for half price. A perfect book as the nights draw in and we near Halloween.

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