Saturday, 29 October 2011

Halloween just happens to fall at one of the darkest times of year when it is also beginning to get cold and thoughts turn to warm crackling fires as well as fun and games around them, so what better way to entertain yourself this Halloween than with a selection of great books which can be read in the warm and in the light (if you so desire)!

To begin with we must cater for the youngest children who will be going to bed the soonest and will need a story to send them off happy into dreamland. The best book for this, in my opinion at least, is Mouldy Monsters (Campbell Books, 9780230753954) by AnnaLaura Cantone. This book takes the fear out of monsters, after all some of them are afraid too, and shows that most of them are also very silly! In addition to a funny story there are touch-and-feel elements on every spread - I love the ‘Mello Jello’s’ with their pink tutus and the ’Fuzzy McWuzzies’ with their blue fur, though by far the most popular with children is the green bogies from the ‘Booger Beloogas’!

Then comes the wonderful Debi Gliori who has provided us with just the title for sharing with toddlers. The Scariest Thing of All (Bloomsbury, 9780747599692) from its cover of purple hues and red spiky writing, with the exception of the cute bunny, one gets a sense of mystery before opening up to a bright and colourful meadow of long grass … Lots of larger than life scary things BIG spiders among them, are counterbalanced by a vibrancy and cute factor that is very reassuring. This book is the perfect read for little ones afraid of the dark and just a little scared this Halloween.

If you are story telling to a party of little ones then Elizabeth Baguley and Marion Lindsay’s Ready Steady Ghost (Oxford University Press, 9780192792648) is a good choice with its rhythmical text, swirly ghosts floating across blue pages and a very funny story about a ghost who isn’t actually much good at haunting!

Next come the younger readers who will adore the latest Horrid Henry and not only for its 3D moulded cover allowing curious fingers to prod the torch in awe! If you can believe it Horrid Henry has reached the grand old age of 20, he has a film, a TV series and now a very special book too. Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire by Francesca Simon (Orion Children’s Books, 9781842551356) finds Henry up to his usual tricks, scaring everyone, including himself, with some monstrously funny results. Read this one if you dare, for Halloween!

More advanced and older readers will love the second Bansi O’Hara title. Bansi O’Hara and the Edges of Halloween by author and Armadillo reviewer John Dougherty, (Random House, 9780440867920) may have been published back in April but is the perfect read this Halloween for its fast paced and frightening adventure story. Bansi is longing for a quiet life but life has other ideas and this adventure finds Bansi back in Faerie to rescue her mum from the Dead Cruach whilst trying to cope with Granny and Nora Mullarkey. One wonders which will be more difficult! A great adventure with lots of humour, the perfect cheering read for this Halloween.

So get your teeth stuck in to one of these great stories rather then a toffee apple this Halloween and you are guaranteed to have a great time!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Half Term Fun with Jacqueline Wilson

Fancy a good day out for half term then look no further than Seven Stories (if you are in or near Newcastle of course). For those of you in other parts of the country the website is packed with fun and there are of course always plenty of events taking place. The Internet is a great place to hunt for children's reading activities, or try your local library. In the meantime back to Seven Stories ...

Daydreams and Diaries, the Story of Jacqueline Wilson is the first ever exhibition dedicated to this author and her work. The good news is that there is plenty of time to see it as it runs until September 2012.

In this new exhibition Jacqueline herself (though sadly not in person) guides the visitor through her favourite stories, characters and daydreams as well as proividing an insight into her working process, providing inspiration for budding writers. See how ideas become text and find out more about working with an illustrator. This is a chance to sit and daydream as well as be inspired.

These wonderful pictures will give you a taster of what to expect ...

Jacqueline Wilson with 10 young people from the North East who took part in a Creative Writing project at Seven Stories.

Jacqueline Wilson relaxes in a replica of her 1950's bedroom.

Jacqueline Wilson in front of the Dumping Ground from Tracy Beaker.

Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt meet their fans in the set of Tracy Beaker at Seven Stories.

With thanks to Lauren Regan, Marketing and Communications at Seven Stories

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Party Barefoot Style

Linda Newbery reports from the Barefoot Books party celebrating their move to new offices in Oxford.

Barefoot Books celebrated their move to Summertown, Oxford with a launch party on Friday (7th October), followed by a packed weekend of family activities. They've taken over a former Co-Op, architecturally mimicking the chapel next door, which in previous lives has been a bathroom showroom and an artists' shop and gallery. These are spacious premises which lend themselves well to their new role, with various nooks and corners for storytelling and activities, a cafe, and another floor upstairs with space to seat small or larger audiences. It's a bookshop with lots of face-out display combined with community and family centre, offering weekly activities including yoga for children and adults, drama, dance, crafts and of course story times.

The decor, both inside and out, is colourful, inviting and stylish - it would be hard to pass by without having at least a look inside. Lucky Summertown. See the website, www.barefootbooks, for details of books and events.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Back - Finally - Into History

I am very sorry that I ahve been away for so long, I had not realised the start of a new term would be quite so nusy. I ahve however not been away from books and if you have been following me on Twitter @Armadillomag, you'll see that I;ve been busy with my daily reading diet!

So what have I found to enthrall you all with today - some wonderful new titles fromBarrington Stoke. Having been asked to cover some history lessons at school last week - two on the Tudors and one on Victorian factories - I was thrilled to find in my post two new Barrington Stoke titles set in history.

Anne Perry is busy writing a series of time-slip or time-travel, depending on your preferred phrase, stories. The series begins with Tudor Rose in which the heroine, Rosie, finds she has been given a very special time piece, one that will send her back to the court of Queen Elizabeth, find her in the Queen's court assisting her as she stands firm against the Spanish Amarda.

Rose of No-Man's Land takes our heroine to the hospitals of Flanders in the First World War where Rose meets Edith Cavell, a nurse executed for her bravery and courage in helping soldiers escape.

The reader learns some interesting historical lessons, as does Rose, who also learns how to stand up for herself at school, learns courage and meets some of history's most important women in their darkest hours.

Exciting new fiction from an award-winning publisher and something for teen girls who may be a little reluctant to read, to really get their teeth into.