Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas to you all!

by Jessie Willcox Smith
A very Merry Christmas to all of you! (If you don't celebrate Christmas, then a very happy season, whichever holiday you are observing at this time of year.) I hope you have enjoyed the Advent Calendar of Books this year. And I wish you many, many new books for Christmas and all the year long.
I also want to thank all of you who have been checking out Fallen Star Stories this year. Many welcomes to all my new viewers from all around the world. It's always great to see you!The postings have been irregular at times, but life does have a tendency to get in the way of such things. Anyway, I do hope you enjoy enjoy them.
Thank you; much warmth and love and BOOKS!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tracking Santa

A bit late with this, I know. It has been a manic couple of days in the bookshop, and now I am home and settled into tracking Santa on his worldwide journey via the NORAD Santa Tracker. If you see this, here's the link... and you can track Santa, too!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Some of the Best Childrens' Books!

Here are some of my favourite books for young readers this year. There have been some fantastic books and it is so difficult to select 'the best'. See what you think. In no particular order.....

WAFFLE HEARTS: Lena and Me in Mathildewick Cove
author: Maria Parr translator: Guy Puzey
Walker Books (2013) ISBN: 9781406341362
In a small fjord-side village in Norway, Lena and Trille get up to all kinds of adventures! Singing Christmas Carols in summer for change; re-enacting Noah's Ark, visiting with Auntie Granny; they are always together. Trille knows that Lena is his best-friend, but does Lena feel the same? This book is about friendship, family and living in community. A gentle, fun and warm book that shares all the best traits of writers like Astrid Lindgren!

FLORA AND ULYSSES: The Illuminated Adventures
author: Kate DiCamillo illustrator: K.G. Campbell
Walker Books (2013) ISBN: 9781406345186
Flora Belle Buckman is 10 years old and a self-proclaimed cynic. She is an avid reader of Terrible Things That Can Happen To You and is prepared for any disaster, large or small. When she witnesses a squirrel being sucked up by a neighbours' vacuum cleaner, Flora rushes to his rescue! But the squirrel has been changed by his experience and Flora is about to discover that maybe, just maybe being a cynic all the time isn't all it's cracked up to be. Funny, delightful and, let's face it, Kate DiCamillo can not write a bad book!

author: Rebecca Stead
Andersen (2013) ISBN: 978189395427
Georges has had to move house and, with his mother 'working' all the time, he never gets to see her. They communicate through messages left with Scrabble tiles. His new friend, Safer, isn't quite what he seems. Life isn't easy. When Georges becomes inducted into becoming a trainee spy for Safer, it does become much more interesting. Stead is a brilliant author! Liar & Spy is a real gem; highly readable, witty and moving. One of the very best this year.

author: Piers Torday
Quercus (2013) ISBN: 9781780878300
An extraordinary boy named Kester is taken from his 'boarding school' by a flock of pigeons and a gang of cock roaches. When he arrives in a place where the last wild creatures are hiding, Kester realises that something has gone terribly wrong in the world...and it's up to him and the Last Wild to put it right. An amazing, exiting adventure that will change your perspective. Brilliantly written for fans and fantasy and dystopian fiction.

author: Tone Almhjell illustrator: Jan Schoenherr
Little Brown Young Readers (2013) ISBN: 9780349001661
This has got to be my book of the year! There is something wrong in the house that Lins' family have rented. The clocks move far too slowly and frost covers the ground, even in the pouring rain. Lin receives a 'twistrose key'; a special key that leads through a gate in the cellar and into the land of Sylver. All is not well in Sylver either. An amazing fantasy adventure that you will not be able to put down. Beautifully written and lushly illustrated throughout.Everyone should read this book!

author: Andrew Lane
Macmillan's Childrens Books (2013) 9781447248828
(Well... read the whole series, actually!) A sinister psychic; a mysterious beast and a strange and impossible murder... life is always on a knife edge for young Sherlock Holmes. After being kidnapped and taken to the Orient, young Sherlock is heading home on a merchant ship. The closest he can get is Galway, where he is met by Mycroft. His brother needs his help as he is on a mission for the British government. But it isn't as straight forward as it should have been. Exceptional writing and intricately layered story lines that hold true to the original Conan Doyle series, meet the legend as a school boy! Fabulous!

author/illustrator: Alex T. Smith
Hodder Children's Books (2013) ISBN: 9781444919110
Yet another in the Claude series! Have you met Claude the dog, yet? You really should! On his latest adventure, Claude and best friend, Sir Bobblysock have a great winter's day... throwing snowballs, building a snowman and... ummm... causing an avalanche. (There are five books in the Claude series, and you can start anywhere you like. Smith reintroduces Claude and his family at the beginning of each book.) Hilarious, easy-read adventures that will leave you laughing and wanting more.

THE POWERS: The Not-So-Super Superheroes
author: Kevin Stevens illustrator: Sheena Dempsey
Little Island (2013) ISBN: 9781908195838
Everybody loves a superhero story... of course The Powers (all of whom have their own super powers) do have their difficulties. Take Suzie, for example. She lives in a family with super-powers, but poor Suzie has none. Or does she? Does he even want super-powers when the rest of her family can't seem to control theirs? The kitchen is flooded by Mum's rain storm due to the fact that Dad has set the kitchen on fire with his and brother JP can't remember that, when flying, it's best to wait until you're outside for take-off. Hilarious fun for the family!

author: Wendy Meddour illustrator: Mina May
OUP Oxford (2013) ISBN: 9780192794635
Wendy Quill will be a little bit famous... all it takes is being a crocodiles' bottom in the school play, taking a part as a tap-dancing munchkin in her best friends' dance recital and finally... FINALLY... making the headlines by 'catching' the plague and saving her teacher from the school rat. Just brilliant and delightfully illustrated, this is bound to become a firm favourite!

I'll leave you with these.... for the moment. (Told you it was difficult to pick my 'best'.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2013

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2013 winners have been announced this evening.
Taking the prize in the 7-14 years group is....(drum roll, please!).....
Jim Smiths' Barry Loser: Still Not A Loser
 And in the category for ages 6 and under is.......
A big, hearty chuckle of congratulations to both!
The Roald Dahl Funny Prize was launched in 2008 and celebrates its sixth year. It's goal is to promote laughter and humour when reading. Over 200 school children across the UK participate each year in the judging process for this award... an award given by the readers who really count. The awards were announced at the Cambridge Theatre in London (home of the Royal Shakespeare Company.) The winner in each category has received an award of £2500.... and the laughter and joy of children everywhere.
Follow the link below for more on this year's awards and the complete shortlist...just for laughs!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Favourite Picture Books of the Year

I wanted to share some of my favourite books of the year...and I thought I'd start with the picture books. These are a few of the 'stand-out' picture books from the past 12 months; maybe a few that you haven't thought of yourselves.
As last month was Picture Book Month, hopefully you were looking at the site and learned from 30 'picture book ambassadors' the importance of picture books (in printed form!) in all our lives, not just the lives of our children. And please keep in mind, picture books are not just for the very young or pre-readers. Many are not written for young children (take Sally Gardners' new book 'Tinder' with it's evocative illustrations by David Roberts. That qualifies as a picture book; as does the original edition of 'A Monster Calls' by Patrick Ness with it's illustrations by Jim Kay.) But I digress...
Here a just a few of the wondrous picture books that I particularly loved this year.

author/illustrator: Aaron Becker
A wordless, stunning masterpiece that the entire family will want to ponder again and again. A small, lonely girl draws a door on her bedroom wall... a door that leads her on an adventure of beauty and discovery. The best!

author/illustrator: Jackie Morris
The boy and his family have a very special role to play...they seek out orphaned leverets and keep them safe; for they are the ones that hold the secret of the song of the golden hare. The boy has been waiting all his life for the chance to hear that song... and to watch the magic it brings.

author/illustrator: Rebecca Cobb
A boy and girl are very cross... Mum and Dad are going away for the night, and they do not want to be 'looked after'; especially since Mum has left a list of boring instructions! But Aunt Amelia is a bit different... and she's a lot more fun! An utter delight!(Also look for Cobb's Lunchtime; now out in paperback)

author: Andrea Beaty illustrator: David Roberts
From the same team that gave us the wonderful Iggy Peck, Architect comes a new picture book about pursuing your dream, regardless of what others may think. Rosie is a quiet girl by day, but an amazing inventor by night who dreams of, one day, becoming a great engineer.

author/illustrator Jonny Duddle
Rex is a normal 6-year-old boy. He lives on his parents' moog farm and attends a galactic citizen school. But Rex has big dreams... one day he will be King of Space. With his unwitting friends, Rex builds an army of warbots and begins to conquer unknown worlds. But when he goes too far, there's only one person who can save him....his tough-talking mum! Another brilliant and exciting book from the creator of The Pirate-Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door. I love Jonny Duddle and so will you!

author/illustrator: Birgitta Sif
Oliver is different. He enjoys his solitude and  playing with his friends who are puppets, stuffed animals and other toys. Through his imagination, they build towns and go on adventures. But sometimes, toys don't give you everything you need. One day, while playing tennis by himself, Oliver discovers a new companion.
This is a quiet, beautiful book about imagination, loneliness and friendship with quiet, expressive illustrations...a first picture book from Birgitta Sif. I look forward to many more from her!

Now... there's six for you to consider. Stay tuned; there will be more in the upcoming days!

(A bit later that same day.....) Where's my head? A very, very favourite I forgot to add earlier:
author: Helen Docherty illustrator: Thomas Docherty
A wonderful, whimsical and poignant book all about the importance of  story at bedtime. This one is a must for every child and their grown-ups!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy December

Picture Books in Winter: Jessie Willcox Smith
Welcome December and all that it brings! Today, in Galway, it was a grey, dismal day...just perfect for curling up with a good book or two; and for contemplating the holiday season and the new books coming our way.
I've begun Mary's Advent Calendar of Books again this year... each day will feature a different book for the season right up to Christmas! There may be some repeats of last years' selection, but some books are too good not to mention again. Check out the page each day...see what you think!
I'll also be making some recommendations of my favourite books of the year and hoping you will find something to delight and entertain the whole family!
So, Welcome December...bring it on!