Showing posts from June, 2017

Farewell Michael Bond, Creator of Paddington Bear

It is with great sorrow that I heard the news of Michael Bonds' passing today. Michael Bond was, of course, the creator of the beloved Paddington Bear. The first book, A Bear Called Paddington was first published in 1958. It introduced the world to Paddington Bear, so called because he was found at Paddington Station after having made his way from deepest, darkest Peru stowed away on a ship with a suitcase full of marmalade sandwiches. A Bear Called Paddington, along with the numerous sequels, chronicles the life Paddington is now adjusting to in contemporary London; adopted by the Browns', trying to understand how everything works and causing chaos, while frequently saving the day at the same time. Gentle, poignant, observant and all too human, Paddington stands among the great fictional characters of our time. Bonds' books went on to introduce other characters; Olga da Polga, that marvelous, funny guinea pig who has left the pet shop to start her new life with her hum

20 Years of Harry Potter

On 26 June, 1997, the first copies of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by an unknown author called JK Rowling greeted the world as bookshops opened their doors....quietly, unobtrusively....almost without notice. It seems strange to think that now. We are so used to having Harry Potter in our lives and no one could have predicted the effect the publication of that book exactly twenty years ago would have. It has changed the reading landscape of children and adults alike. As recent as last week, I found myself shocked as a customer came in to buy a copy for his young son (aged 9 and grinning like at mad thing at the thought of his own copy!) and admitted, "I haven't read it." It wasn't just me...a silence came over the quite full childrens section at that moment and all heads slowly turned to stare. I recovered this awkward moment by saying ('s how I really feel); "How exciting for you! You get to read it the first time together...I rem

More Summer Reads

The summer holidays are fast approaching, with most of the teens and young adults here already out of school. They'll need something to escape into, even though it seems at times their reading material is quite serious and issue-driven. Here's a few for that crowd, which will peak their interest and keep them reading. Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman is an amazing, intriguing science-fiction re-telling of Othello. Twins Olivia and Aidan are heading back to Earth on their own after a virus has wiped out the entire crew of their vessel. Nathan is on board a ship heading in the other direction when it is brutally attacked, with few survivors. For Olivia and Nathan, it is love at first sight. But their love inspires jealousy, deception and hatred in the others. A gripping, consuming read from the incomparable Blackman. I have already praised Released by Patrick Ness (see the Young Adult review page) and all I can say now is, please, please read this book. A personal, i

Lauren Child..New UK Childrens' Laureate

A couple of days ago, it was announced that the new UK Childrens Laureate is Lauren Child. Child brings with her a back catalog of some 40 odd books as writer, illustrator and writer/illustrator. She has received 13 awards and honours in her career. And she brings with her something very close to my heart...a knowledge and passion for the importance of reading for pleasure. Acknowledging the importance of this, Child is quoted as saying: "There's talk of how children should be reading, but if you can get a child excited about it that's half the work done." Indeed. A child who learns to approach reading, not as a chore, work or a lesson that must be learned, but rather as a joy, a window to the world, a map to  places and people and things...this child will suddenly open up a far easier route to education and to life in general. But I am rambling now. Lauren Child speaks of creativity; of inspiration. And she does not limit these notions to herself and the few ot

Looking For Books For The Summer?

It's June and it's time to plan for the summer it's also time to plan some summer reading for the kids. Summer is perfect to help foster the idea of reading for pleasure...because you want to; and to find those all important books that inspire young people into a life of reading. So often I hear, "Oh, they're not into reading and I'd like to get them interested." My response is always "They haven't found their book, yet." And that's just it...there is always one book that inspires, that excites and that ignites a real joy of books in a child. Hopefully, one of these will do just that. Or maybe you have a young reader that you can't keep in books...they plow through them at an incredible rate and you need to know about more. So here's a few: THE CLUBHOUSE MYSTERY (Cass and the Bubble Street Gang) by Erica McGann: Those annoying twin babies keep destroying Cass' fort in her front room (and she gets told off f