Saturday, 31 October 2009

Spooky Books for Halloween

It is Halloween and all things spooky will be happening, children will be trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins and having great parties. To help with the entertainment adults could read their young children Liz Martinez and Mark Beech’s story of The Everyday Witch published by Bloomsbury.

With Mark Beech’s illustration in the style of Quentin Blake adding colour and atmosphere to this story of a little boy who strongly suspects that his mother is a witch and accompanying the humorous rhyming text of Liz Martinez there is plenty to enjoy listening to and detail galore to pore over.

When Jimmy peeps though his curtains one night and sees his mother flying on a broomstick with the pet cat Tiddles he is determined to prove that she does not lead a life of potion brewing and spell casting! When he thinks that he has finally proved himself right he finds stripy stockings on the washing line – help!

If further entertainment in the form of story telling is required Winnie the Witch finds herself in possession of an Amazing Pumpkin. Children will delight in the story of Winnie and Wilbur enjoying their vegetables, particularly pumpkin – they may even learn to like them too! The fun comes when Winnie, laden with her greens, finds it difficult to get home from the market so decides it is time to grow some instead! All does not quite go according to plan and Winnie’s magical spells once again create a riot of colour and fun. With captivating and detailed illustration as well as hilarious text Winnie’s Amazing Pumpkin, published by oxford University Press, should keep its young audience entertained for hours and may even provide some inspiration to budding gardeners.

Another picture book, this time with magic flaps to lift comes from the talented Nick Sharratt. What’s in the Witches Kitchen? Encourages children to actively engage with the story and make it their own as they decide whether the witch is storing ‘tasty cheese or bats with fleas’ in her fridge. Will it be ‘pooh lizards fart or yum cherry tart’ in the oven and so the horrible by hilarious rhymes continue. With one on every double page spread and a simple repetitive story this book will delight the little ones, have them reciting some truly awful ideas, searching the kitchen for all things horrible and generally having a great time!

Finally to entertain toddlers during the day –shouldn’t they be in bed by the time of the party? – there is Scary Doodles written by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and illustrated by Anja Boretzki – before the children get their hands on it! This is a wonderful take on the traditional colouring book. A spiral bound hardback this invited children to accessorize the many illustrations and add their own splash of colour as well as their own goulish creations! Add spiders to webs, draw creatures in a cave and decide what the witch has in her cauldron. Not for the faint-hearted and perhaps best to play with during daylight hours this is a wonderful celebration of ghouls, ghosts and witches. Just grab a pencil and let your imagination run wild!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Enter a Pastworld if you dare!

Ian Beck’s fist venture into teenage literature has resulted in a darkly gothic tale of a future London that is a Victorian dystopia.

More widely known for his picture books and illustration as well as his recent Tom Trueheart stories for junior readers Ian is a much loved and favourite author. As he opens up his skill to a new audience he reveals another side to his character and a new set of skills as an author. There are not many who can travel from gentle picture books to dystopian gothic horror!

Pastworld is the creative genius of a corporation in love with the ideals of a Victorian society. They have created a world populated by people who know very little of the real time in which they live, they are in an alternative reality, they are a theme park but they do not all live by the rules.

The gawkers or visitors from outside undergo a thorough process before being admitted to Pastworld, but those inside are under no such obligations, watched over by the police and special intelligence services they are still very much free to behave as they would and the authentic Victorian fogs merely aide and abet their crimes.

There is one inparticular – the fantom who haunts both those inside and out of the Pastworld he has a sinister murderous criminal with dark secret and he is after just one person.

Eve is an innocent but curious young girl, it is through her journal and the narration of Inspector Catchpole that we are drawn into this dark world.

Dark, gruesome and yet compelling this is a wonderful story from a highly creative mind and it has some wonderfully authentic touches. Watch the special trailer by following this link and then seek out Pastworld for yourself.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Great Hamster Massacre

If you are a hamster lover then look away now for this is not a story for the faint hearted or squeamish!

There has been a Great Hamster Massacre and an investigation into this most awful of crimes was carried out under the watchful eyes of Simon & Schuster publishers, Katie Davies (author) and
Hannah Shaw (illustrator).

(Picture shows (L-R): Kate Hancock, Waterstone’s; Hannah Shaw, illustrator; Katie Davies, author; Alan Davies; Sophie Overment, Waterstone’s)

In Katie's debut novel the writer, columnist and comedienne tells the story of Anna, her brother Tom and their assorted family, pets and neighbours who are all implicated in the massacre. Anna is relentless in her investigations and the ensuing mystery, whodunit investigation is a brilliant read for hamster lovers everywhere. Wonderfully illustrated with the quirky drawings of Hannah Shaw this is a brilliant new book from a new talent.

The evening celebrations marking the launch of this book were a great success and many of those who gathered for the investigations on the Strand were no doubt nursing sore heads the following morning!

Whilst Katie's book was launched in great style and with great enthusiasm we can hope that children will love the story as much as all we adults and can only wait with bated breath for the next installment of Anna's ill-fated and hilarious pet relationships!