Thursday, 18 April 2019

Fabio, The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective

Fabio, The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective
Mystery on the Ostrich Express
Written by Laura James
Illustrated by Emily Fox
Published by Bloomsbury

Fabio, a rather dashing and intelligent flamingo, is the best detective around.  He and his brilliant, but sometimes clumsy, associate Gilbert are going on holiday.  They are travelling in style on the famous Ostrich Express.

Of course, in true mystery style, a burglary takes place on board and it is up to Fabio and Gilbert to solve the mystery and apprehend the bandits!

Zazie, the stylish desert fox, has the Laloozee Ruby hanging from her neck. It comes with a legend that you must have a true heart or it will find a new owner.  
Bandits steal the legendary ruby and a great plan to retrieve it is hatched.  Fabio enlists the help of the Ostrich crew, Gilbert and all the animals travelling with them. 

Fabio believes that the bandits are led by none other than Janice old nemesis who has escaped from jail and is on the run.  The sly leopard has a few tricks up her sleeve but nothing gets past Fabio!

Will Fabio and Gilbert get the ruby back? Who exactly is Zazie and can she be trusted? 

This series of books is a true pleasure to read and to look at.  Younger readers will find this an exceptional introduction to mystery novels and it is accessible in terms of language.  
The strong use of bold bright colours allows this to be used almost like a picture book.  A great stepping stone from picture books to short novels.

I loved The Case of the Missing Hippo and look forward to many more mysteries to solve with Fabio! 

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Kiran Millwood Hargrave has such a beautiful way of orchestrating language and describing the world in such a way that you are immediately transported there.   Scents, feelings, taste, all senses are thoroughly represented and you come away feeling like this book is now a part of your very soul.
This is a new fiercely female perspective on the Dracula stories we have heard in the past,
Twins Lil and Kizzy, are travellers, much hated and treated badly by society.  The day before their divining, which is a ceremony learning your future path, their camp is burned and they are taken with other teens to become slaves.  The rest of their travelling community murdered.
They become slaves to a cruel Boyar and are forced to do much against their will.  In true feminist form, they learn to fight back, bare the consequences of their actions and protect each other and those they have grown to love.

Lil, the quieter twin, finds love in an unexpected place.  Kizzy learns to sacrifice through her actions and both follow a path never before taken.  There is an element of twin sense and knowing that you would do anything for your sibling within this book.

It is a dark novel full of female power, fierce love and a true sense of choosing your fate.

I devoured it in an evening, unable to leave the story at any point, needing to continue the adventure just as Drac needed to feast on blood.
Truly engrossing, utterly beautiful and a new girl power voice in the old Dracula legend.

Fast paced and truly adventurous
Heartbreaking and sad
Brave and fierce

Read it!

Return to Wonderland- Various Authors

Having grown up with the Alice stories, losing myself in Wonderland and enjoying the Mad Hatter’s endless tea parties I was thrilled to see them brought to life in a new way.
This collection of stories will bring you back to Wonderland, re-introduce you to your favourite characters and give you new perspectives on it all.

11 significant and stellar authors have come together to help us “Return to Wonderland”!
They have created mini masterpieces and I thoroughly enjoyed each one.

We learn from Patrice Lawrence, all about the hedgehogs and an old nemesis in the flamingo mallets.  We visit a library with 7 books, and a missing book with Swapna Haddow, and Piers Torday helps us to find out how the Cheshire Cat got the smile he is so famous for!

There is so much to enjoy in these stories and they are so in keeping with Lewis Carroll’s original story that it feels an extension on Wonderland.

I feel this will give Alice in Wonderland a new boost with younger generations coming to read and love the stories as much as these authors did.

I particularly liked how each author introduced their story with how Alice formed a part of their reading history.  It was fascinating, insightful and on many occasions I could totally relate to their experiences.

This is a wonderful book and I can see it being enjoyed in schools and homes across the country.

Loved it!

Runaway Robot by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

I really enjoyed reading about Alfie, Eric and the cast of friends from The Limb Lab.  Alfie has been involved in a serious accident, in which he loses his right hand, and most of the memories surrounding the event.

As you read you discover snippets of memory from the accident and see what Alfie is going through.  He has moments of frustration and anger at not being able to control his new hand, or to rid himself of the ghost feeling from his old hand.

Skipping school and The Limb Lab, he heads to the airport and “loses” his hand.  In a quest to retrieve it, he finds lost property and finds a giant robotic hand which he discovers belongs to the most polite robot ever.  So begins a journey of discovering who Eric is, where he comes from and also a journey in which new memories are surfacing for Alfie.

There are of course twists, turns and surprises along the way.  I enjoyed the story and the ending is wonderful!

I think I enjoyed this book all the more for having heard  Frank Cottrell-Boyce read from the chapter where Alfie first meets Eric.  Listening to how he read it brought it to life and I was keen to carry on myself,  I was not disappointed.

Frank Cottrell-Boyce is a master storyteller and his books are hugely successful as they are funny, relatable and honest.

Steven Lenton is a true genius and his illustrations make the characters so real.  I am a huge fan on Lenton’s illustrative style!

Monday, 15 April 2019

Federation Conference 2019

I originally named my blog “myshelvesarefull” as it was an accurate description of all the bookshelves in my home.

Since attending my first ever Federation of Children’s Books conference this past weekend I might need to reconsider my blog name. It may now need to be my shelves are collapsing under the weight of books.

I brought home more than 60 books, many proof copies, some bought from Marilyn Brocklehurst’s amazing shop and some won in a raffle draw.  This weekend was not relaxing, it was jam packed with wonderful events, but it was inspiring and perfect if you love books and want to talk books for an entire weekend.

The program is full of wonderful authors pitching new books, seminars where authors read excerpts from new books and Q and A sessions where a group of authors and publishers chat and answer the questions of the audience.

As it was my first foray into a book conference I felt I couldn’t have had a better experience. Book people are just the best.  The organisers were friendly, knowledgeable and experienced in running a successful event.  There were cakes, celebrations of book birthdays...this year was Giraffes Can’t Dance, Elmer and The Gruffalo, and plenty of books to be had.

I was nervous about the publishers exhibition as I was told it is a frenzy of fun, proof copies and overloading on bookmarks, posters and freebies.
What a fantastic time I had.  It was lovely to chat and meet publicists who I have emailed but never met.  They are young, enthusiastic and excited about the books on their stand.  I kept going back for more book conversations, business cards and freebies.  

In all honesty I haven’t even looked into the bags I have brought home.  I am still processing this weekend and the information I took away.  I now need to think clearly about where these new books will live.  

Luckily, as I work for a trust of 13 schools, many of these books will find their way into the hands of children...which is the overall goal of the federation.

I highly recommend anyone with a bookish interest to consider attending the yearly conference.  It is a truly enlightening experience and you come away with new authors to read, new books to enjoy and so many posters, bookmarks and goodies that your libraries will be transformed.

Follow them on twitter @FCBGNews or check out their website for more information,

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Picture Book Perfect Day 3

Animals take the spotlight today....Penguins vs Badgers!
Both black and white and both learning important lessons in their respective stories!

Meet The Penguins by Mike Brownlow and The Only Way is Badger by Stella J Jones and Carmen Saldana.
Meet The Penguins
Written and Illustrated by Mike Brownlow
Published by Oxford University Press

Two penguins arrive with their cases, eager to make friends and play games.  It isn’t easy to ask to play with others over and over again but they bravely continue on their way asking different animals on each page.  Sadly, the answer is always the!
Sad and dejected they give up and ponder what to do next....until a little voice asks “Can I play”?
Well, after feeling so many rejections there is only one answer to the little bear.  YES!

The cases are filled with amazing toys, tricks and fun and it isn’t long before others come asking to play.

What a lovely book to read and enjoy! The illustrations are colourful and bold.  The animals are brought to life doing funny activities and there is some humour added in for all to enjoy.

This is an excellent introduction to learning how to be brave and ask to join a game, make a friend or try something new.  The ending is brilliant and funny. I was chuckling to myself as I was reading.

The Only Way is Badger
Written by Stella J Jones
Illustrated by Carmen Saldana
Published by Little Tiger Press

“Be More Badger” signs and a wall have appeared in the forest and the animals are confused.  Badger has decided that all the animals need to be more “Badger”, digging, sleeping underground, and barking. Unfortunately, the animals are not very Badger at all and are asked to leave as they fail each task.  The world becomes black and white to match Badger and just as he wants to enjoy it, he realises he is alone.

In all the excitement of being Badger, he has forgotten to be a friend.  One more sign and perhaps everything will be ok!

A lovely message of being who you are and not conforming to be the same is evident throughout the book.  The illustrations are stunningly colourful, bright and a joy to pore over. 

We should always be true to ourselves and know how important friends are!  This is a wonderful book for reading to all ages, as the message never gets too old! Be you! All the time! 

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Picture Book Perfect Day 2

It is always a good day when you hear the post land on the mat with a thump.  Picking up the package  I could see it was from Nosy Crow.  I love Nosy Crow books and today was no exception.
Three brilliant new books sat happily in their package waiting for me to open and enjoy.
Today’s writing will focus on Have you seen my Blankie by Lucy Rowland and Paula Metcalf
as well as Tracey Corderoy’s latest The One-Stop Story Shop, illustrated by Tony Neal. Both of these are perfect picture books full of charm, colour and humour. 

Have You Seen My Blankie
Written by Lucy Rowland
Illustrated by Paula Metcalf
Published by Nosy Crow

Poor Princess Alice has lost her Blankie....and so begins a search around the palace.  She can’t find it so asks her brother who directs her to a giant, who directs her to a witch, who directs her to a grumpy sleep deprived dragon.  A dragon who wants the Blankie to help him sleep.
The adventure continues as Alice isn’t willing to share Blankie and dragon needs some sleep.
This is a gorgeous book filled with colourful illustrations and rhyming text.  It is perfect for anyone who has a special Blankie or teddy who helps them sleep. It is also perfect for anyone who loves stories with dragons and happy endings.
I know a few classes of children who will devour this book when they see it appear in the library!
The title allows a brilliant hook into reading this one- do the children think he knows where it is? How do we know? I can’t wait to read it aloud and see what they think!

The One-Stop Story Shop
Written by Tracey Corderoy
Illustrated by Tony Neal
Published by Little Tiger Press

Mr Fearless Knight is on a quest to slay the dragon but the dragon has gone on holiday! 
The story is can we finish the adventure without a battle between knight and dragon? 
A friendly neighbour points to The One-Stop Story Shop, the place for characters, plots and costumes. Perfect.....except they are sold out of dragons. 
Who else can help move this story along? The most unlikely of heroes....a ferret!
What kind of story have a Knight and a ferret? Well, in order to decide they need to try a few. 
With laugh out loud moments, bright colourful illustrations and a knowledgeable shop keeper we eventually have a perfect story!
This is an excellent book, one to be read over and over again! 
This one will be wonderful for creative writing sessions...think like the shop keeper when you get stuck! 

Friday, 5 April 2019

Picture Book Perfect

I am a huge fan of picture books! In their honour I am dedicating a week of my blog to picture books, their wonder, style and versatility.

Today starts Day 1 with two books from 2018 which are new to me.  I found them in a school library and loved them from the first peek at the cover, story and design.
I wanted to blog about them together as they are linked by houses, trees and a boy and girl on the front cover.

The House that Once Was
Written by Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Lane Smith
Published by Two Hoots in 2018

This book leads you up a path through the woods to “a house that once was but now isn’t a home”.  Each page leads you closer to inspect the house, the peeling paint, the faded pictures and items left unpacked.  Imaginations start to soar as the children imagine who lived there and why they left so hastily.
This is a gorgeous picture book full of Lane Smith’s distinct style of illustrations.  Each page is a joy to behold and pore over.

What a wonderful book to share and explore with children of all ages.  Whether studying the illustrations or imagining where the family who left are there is so much to love about this book.

Everything you Need for a Treehouse
Written by Carter Higgins
Illustrated by Emily Hughes
Published by Chronicle Books in 2018

“Everything you need for a treehouse starts with time and looking up and imagining a home”.  I love how this book starts with your imagination and leads you through all you will need to create a wondrous treehouse where you can plant flowers, read books and have snacks. Every child dreams of a treehouse where they can be on their own, pretend they are in a castle or sailing the seas.
Each page is a delight showing amazing treehouse creations, and nature surrounding them! 

The text is full of rich vocabulary and the style of a small box of text on each page allows the illustrations to be on show and they deserve attention.  They are glorious and there is so much to look at on every double page spread. 

Both of these books are excellent and I will be taking them to schools to read and share! 

Thursday, 4 April 2019

The Brontës by Anna Doherty

I love this book.
When it arrived I couldn’t wait to dive in.  Having been aware of The Brontes and their books I was keen to learn more. This is a wonderful introduction to the sisters, their works and their lives.  Perfect for young girls looking for inspiration or for anyone wanting to know more about the Brontë Family.

How tragic their childhoods were but how imaginative they had to be! It proves that without television, technology and phones, children can create worlds, characters and stories! 

I enjoyed learning more about the family.  It is incredibly sad but a fact of the times that when children became ill, there was little to be done for them.  

I think one fact that sets this book apart from a traditional biography is the illustrations.  They are simply gorgeous, charming and a brilliant depiction of the sisters.  The colours on the cover and the end papers link throughout the entire book, so you are not overwhelmed with colours but can enjoy the effective use of them.

Hopefully there will be more in the series....perhaps with other colours used?

How lovely to be right....there is a book about Ada Lovelace and Michelle Obama, both in different colours! Will be buying all of them for my “fantastically feminist” daughter! 

The Elephant that ate the Night

I like a picture book that is slightly outside the box, one that has a lot of character and one that has a feeling of folktale to it.  The Elephant that ate the night ticks those boxes for me.  The illustrations are simple, effective and charming and the story has the feel of an old folk tale that has been passed down generation to generation.

Taotao is afraid of the dark night and so are his friends Zhazha and Duoduo.  They meet Elephant who likes to eat the night and so it seems perfect but there are problems when you have only light and finding the balance is important.  The night doesn’t need to be scary.  This charming book is lovely to read to younger children to help them overcome a fear of darkness.  It would also be a great read aloud to older children as part of learning to write folktales.

Five New Favourites

I have read so many amazing books recently!  My TBR pile is growing daily and I am loving this Golden Age of Children's Fiction. ...