Well Lily in the Mirror has been out in the world and good news, she grew and grew into an omnibus of trilogy proportions.
All Aboard the Lily Omnibus, Destination–Imagination
The Lily Trilogy grew like a pack of sea monkeys except better. When I had finished the first book, Lily in the Mirror (CBCA Notable 2017), I started the second and got a third of the way through, but then I put it to the side to focus on my YA novels and life. When covid hit, I got Lily in Full Bloom back out and finished it off but happily I was not finished, and I wrote Lily in a Pickle very quickly while still having time for my Facebook addiction. Still a fine line. Lily in a Pickle was very significant for me as I wrote it with my Indigenous friend Zoey in mind. She is my sporty character, Cat Quinn. No, Cat is not short for Catherine, her mum really loves cats. As does Zoey. I couldn’t follow the train of thought I had originally devised but we will get to your story one day.
Cate my publisher was her supportive lovely self as usual, and it was the best fun to work with her. It was her idea to bind up the books into three as the time between the Lilies was lengthy and the students who had enjoyed her would, by now, have found their mum’s hidden copy of Flowers in the Attic and experiencing a different type of family mystery.
And so today, my Lilies hit the world I thank all those who helped me. Especially Liz Perrott, (who would have been known as Mrs. Thomas M Perrot back in 1947– it’s an in joke–read the book). Liz held my hand through my virtual life and my real life which was no mean feat and I just want her to know she is #awesome#amazeballs#iamtotallygrateful#blessed.
Magic Surrealism seems to be my thing. My YA novels (please somebody publish them) all have the supernatural running through them as my characters wade through their trying, sometimes cheerless reality. The wonderful thing about an omnibus trilogy is that these issues and themes can be pulled out and examined in depth in various historical contexts, in contrasting social contexts and family inter dynamics. It makes the experience juicier, (Lily would hate that word) just like the perfect fig, further grounding and reflecting real life.
For Lily walks between loneliness, sibling bullying, lost in a large family. Initially her best friends are the gang from the Harry Potter books, keeping her ever constant gnawing anxiety at bay, even if it’s only for a few chapters. But with each magical adventure her confidence and her people skills grow and bloom until she’s firmly in the heart of a kindred group of besties. Even experiencing the endorphins of her first crush, Clive Quinn, speed knitter bookworm extraordinaire whose chiselled chin and homemade beany worn on the most rakish angle intrigue and excite Lily. And of course the return of Edgar Pommeroy, pudding head!
I hope that Lily Griffin gives hope and comfort to all the anxious little beans out there. We need it as we bloom.
The Second World War is over and the world is altered and attempting to recover.
What are these bulky things! This is how Lily and Lucy’s time enjoyed and experienced the world before google and portable devices. This time epoch is known as B.G BEFORE GOOGLE.
Lily has an on the spot light bulb moment and runs to get her slightly smashed laptop.
It is at this point Other Lily can see how far technology has come.
‘Lily was totally intrigued by it and I had to explain it was like a typewriter that could make movies and access all kinds of books, pictures, music and information across the whole wide world …
OL was impressed with the laptop and said it was like Lucy’s old typewriter and gramophone together with all her records , her mum Beryl’s entire newspaper hoard and top secret recipe notepads her dad Ken’s home projector, family slides PLUS her own entire book/encyclopedia collection and Kodak Brownie camera all rolled into one.’
All of these things now fit into our hip pocket in the form of a smart phone!
Did you know that people can get NOMOPHOBIA- THE FEAR OF BEING WITHOUT YOUR MOBILE PHONE.
Sixty something years have passed since Other Lily was trapped in the mirror and Lucy was listening to Frankie Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore and The Andrew Sisters were in the fore with popular music. How does their appearance, sound and lyrics compared to Justin Beiber and Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga.
A teen would be stepping lightly to bonza new dances known as the jitterbug and the swing. Beryl was scandalised – well how would she feel about one shaking one’s junk in one’s trunk? Smelling salts anyone?
Wind up the gramophone … To hear the Voice of Frank SinatraLP album.
I bet your bottom dollar Lucy’s collection consisted of ten or so albums made of the shiniest vinyl and she would have had to wait for the new tunes to arrive from overseas. Major time lag. Months!! Lily.G has thousands of songs at her disposal and a neat 750 songs on her laptop.
A Wireless radio was not only a source of entertainment but a stylish piece of furniture.
Other Lily’s family might have gathered around their wireless to listen to the news, sports, radio serial plays and stories … and music if Beryl’s nerves could hold up.
It is interesting to note we still love a serial, think about Home and Away and Neighbours!
Post war rationing is beginning to ease but ration cards were still important for some food and goods. Princess Elizabeth (AKA the Queen) also collected them and with the support of the nation’s brides received an extra 200 cards to ensure top quality sparkly stuff. Some brides even gave up their own ration cards but they were returned. The nation was behind her.
A younger person may have kept amused by playing card games and collecting / trading sporting cards from cigarettes packs. Everyone has a favourite marble or jack or knuckle (and sling shot and pea shooter) and of course bats and balls.
A kaleidoscope allowed our grandparents to see the world in psychedelic before the Beatles went to India. Discover the mind altering fun for yourself!
Lego came in free range fun packs, there was no media deals with Stars Wars or HarryPotter or Minecraft or The Simpsons or Frozen … you get the idea. Toys were traditionally gender stereotyped with boys enjoying trains sets, riding their bikes and football and girls enjoying sewing, crafts, drawing, skipping and knitting hats with flattering pom poms. Embroidering handkerchiefs, making daisy chains, pressing flowers and writing in our journals in neat loopy handwriting kept a girl out of trouble.
Collections were popular – stamps, coins, medals, shells, pebbles, bookmarks, pinned dead butterflies and assorted insects … all very charming.
Favourite homemade treats lollipops, nougat, penuche, candied nuts, taffy and fudge and patty cakes. A big day in the kitchen for Mum and doled out as treats and sometimes food.
Now our thumbs are well exercised on our playstation, XBOX and Nintendo consoles and we might ask ‘Can we get Macca’s can we can we can we.’ Drive through and tap card, don’t forget to supersize! But we also enjoy a huge array of differing sports for everyone. Lily G. is ecstatic that girls can now play professional football but can’t think about it too much as it reminds her of her own lack of coordination and prowess.
It was at this time that many of our superheroes were invented in comic books particularly Marvel and DC comic books. Did you know Superman was created in 1938! How does he compare with today’s version of Superman?
If you had a florin in your pocket you were doing well for an eleven – year – old.
Kodak Six – 20 Brownie Model Camera was cutting edge in home photography resulting a very small black and white photo that faded and aged like the back of Nimmy’s hands.You could also take photos as a slide and then with a natty little projector and a white rolled up screen send entire families and whole neighbourhoods into a sleep induced coma as you showed off your holiday slides.
With the victory of winning the war girls celebrated by styling their hair in an aptly named victory roll. Curls and waves were created with curlers and pins and a permanent home wave kept your hair in place forever. Not a sign of a hair straightener or coloured highlights. Snoods, slides, combs, ribbons and turbans kept your look cutting edge. Gloves were chosen over acrylic multicoloured nails.
Serial weekly instalments of magazines such as Girls’ Crystal were very important for a dose of adventure and fun. Now we have Buzzfeed, Facebook and snapchat, twitter, u-tube. Discuss? Do you know someone with nomophobia?
Ask students to google the answers to the questions below? How would they have found the answers in 1947? Encourage students to click on images to really give a good idea of how the 40’s looked?
Who was the Prime Minister of Australia in 1947?
List some favourite foods of the time?
How did children learn … think of books, blackboards, repetition and the cane! Ouch!
List the three top songs in Australia at that time?
Look up the jitterbug and the swing on You tube? Get ready to tap your feet.
What do these Aussie slang words mean? bottler, fair dinkum, bonza, give it a burl and she’ll be apples.
What did a ration card look like and what purpose did it serve?
How much was a loaf of bread, a bottle of milk and a postage stamp?
A poltergiest is a noisy attention seeking spirit as a opposed to a laid back chilled one we know as ghosts. This results in objects being moved, various non-fun sounds, levitations and odours. Dispappearing objects often result in fully freaked out residents.
The non chilled sprite tends to thrive on physcokinetic energy particulary around those journeying on the emotional and phsycial changes of puberty and growing up. And yes it is a total conincidence I live in a house of teens and young adults.
Why do we love all things that go bump in the night?
Why were we so drawn to a vampire named Edward (and why do we sometimes still think of him and his irrevocable eyebrows wistfully … sorry that might be just me).
As a small pudgy child with far too much imagination I spent an inappropriate amount of time thinking about things that go bump in the night. Would my Raggedy Anne go joy riding around my room? (see Anxiety)
As I grew older I became more sophistated in my paranormal approach. If I held a freshly sharpened pencil over crisp white file paper with my head snapped back, my eyelids flickering perhaps some wayward spittle involuntarily escaping my mouth I could offer myself up as a vessel for James Dean or a Bronte (anyone would suffice) so I could reveal to the world (or the cat on the couch) their innermost secrets and insights.
Raggedy never left the shelf by her own steam but she did get a sassy haircut by me that made my mother levitate. (See Anxiety) Eventually I got on and did my homework with my pointy pencil clamped in my sweaty hands breathing a sigh of relief that …. any passing spectre had had the good sense not to visit me as they couldn’t bear the noisy fallout.(See Anxiety)
But what is it that draws us to the supernatural or the possibility of something other than our ‘gravity abiding bodies’ is out there. Why do we take delight in being scared … for me it is a comfortable scare … I don’t like horror or any thing over a PG rating. (See Anxiety) My favourite witch of all time is Samantha from Bewitched. Wiggle nose … Yes. Drink sacrificial blood … No!!
Is it because we all yearn to visit a place in which the ordinary rules we are governed by – you know time, space, matter – those old chestnuts – are no longer relevant. Sometimes we need to say piffle to logic and rational thinking and go to our creative places even if it’s just for a short time. When we have finished turning reality on its head, it is also very reassuring to return to our ‘normal’ world in the knowledge that a vamp of significant eyebrows will be awaiting our return with each non beat of his non beating heart. Again that could just be me.
Now onto our friend Edgar, he seems typical of the spirit that has unresolved issues. There is a chocolate bar with his name on it somewhere beyond time and space, leaving him utterly fixated on sweet treats.
We can all be a bit like Edgar – stuck– stuck in our own thoughts and feelings– what should have been, what could have been. We can be stuck like a girl trapped in a mirror for over sixty years. We are all walking around with our own ghosts.
Neil Gaimon puts it eloquently when he describes what ghosts frighten him the most – “The ghosts of today that terrify me mostly are ideas that are uninspected and continue to haunt us … I don’t know if what you’re saying is true. It may have been true once, a long time ago. But it died. And you don’t know. And you are walking around being haunted by dead ideas that need to be buried … Look around and see where you are today!”
Even children carry around these uninspected ideas I am bad at Maths. I am bad at sport. I have less friends than everyone else in the world. I can’t draw. Dead ideas based on fleeting but altering experiences that need to be examined and then cast aside.
This quote really resonates with my characters particularly Lily, as she moves from timid to confident.
All very profound but not very spooky, let’s go back the need to be spooked or make sense of the inexplicable. In my novel Heart a home seance is firstly seen as a quick thrill for a cheap night in. But when things start to happen our trio is freaked out of their tiny minds.
Our trio accidentally open up the portal to a fence sitting ghost soldier who is stuck in no man’s land and unable to move on as he does not know what happened to his true love back home in Australia. Being blown to smithereens also didn’t help his post death state of mind. Am I dead? Oh yes it appears I am. Bugger. Stuck!*
In my research I am yet to come across anything remotely plausible in professional ghost hunters, some sad ghost hunter said she had never seen a ghost but had been touched on the bottom by one. Touched by an angel? I think not. Poked by a person. More than likely. Still I keep searching … the truth is out there.
At the moment I am working on a new YA novel that explores reincarnation and possession in the context of my celtic ancestry. At the core of it is a girl who is weighed down by dead ideas so it has psychological complexity – to what lengths will you go to to claim what should have been yours in life? This is made a titch more chilling as the dead ideas girl is dead and has been for decades.
Ask students to draw and script a story board in which a ghost needs their help? Or perhaps the ghost has a message for them? Spooky!
I have made up this scrapbook because I strongly feel that these bits and pieces are an important part of the Rosy Room’s strange and exciting vintage tale.
GG is calling it my appendix but I do not like this word as I thought an appendix was a tiny little thing in your body prone to explode without warning or reason. Makes me feel queasy much!
Grandad has kindly let me take some of Nimmy’s top quality stuff. The one photo I really wanted is this one. It makes me happy sad. I miss my friend slash great aunt. Lily and Lucy did say I could call on them if I needed to but I have the vibe they meant only in cases of emotional emergency or in threat of physical harm and not total boredom.
Fern says I must stop looking at Lily’s photo all the time and embrace life. I wish she would shut up. I really want to say FOCUS FRONDSY as in stop being a space cadet but I don’t.
I cut this out from a leftover roll of wallpaper I found in the shed. It hadn’t seen the light of day since 1947 and is practically glowing with original brightness.
I searched The Treebark Trail Archive Treasure Trove and found this—Edgar! Apparently his name was Edgar Pommeroy and his death was ‘sorely lamented’ by the tuck-shop lady. There is even a photo. He is so not scary!
I had to include a photo of the ‘alleged’ dreamy Frankie. Other Lily said she much preferred listening to Mozart and even though I really like classical music too Frankie had it ‘going on.’ Fern and Mum agree big time.
Here is a pic of the non-magical rose bushes. Formerly (fab word) the roses belonged to Ken. They have never bloomed so well. Apparently Ken spent a lot of time tending to them (probs hiding from Beryl).
Fabian the cat lived until he was seventeen and was a total vegetarian. Lucy coaxed him out from under the house the night of the mirror incident with cheese as it was all she had and was not allowed to go to the shops in the ‘current circumstance’ and he never went back to Kitty Krunch.
Fern has set up the sewing machine in the good room and has already ‘run up’ (tech sewing term) a Beryl inspired apron/pinny. She actually is quite creative/artistic and I guess this is her ‘gift.’ Here are some frock patterns (love that word—frock) Beryl whipped up for Nimmy. They always let Other Lily choose the pattern and the fabric to make it a bit fairer for her. I am going to use the patterns to make awesome vintage clothes. Fern is going to help me. Bless! Sigh! Spew!
Beryl’s Singer brought from UK
There are literally dozens of these tins, cards, patterns and boxes in the room—proper vintage collector/crazy hoarder style.
The Queen and her Prince on their wedding day 1947. The Queen is still lovely but the Prince has gone all naughty goblin style toot tooting straight from Toyland!
This is the dress pattern Beryl was making for her girls for Christmas 1947. OL said she never got to wear hers and she very kindly let Lucy wear it but sadly she got a beetroot stain down the front and ripped the hem on the non magical rosebushes the very same day. She could not think of kind words that day either.
This is an aerogramme that did not make it into the air. I am going to send it to GG when we get back to Perth as I think he would totes love to receive a historic thank you letter from his favourite grandchild (which is me!)
Zinnia found the most amazing aerogramme today as she was cleaning up. It’s all about GG and Nimmy visiting the Tower of London. Nimmy saw Anne Boleyn’s ghost and wrote all about it to her dear one as she did not want to ‘burden’ dear Col with her special gift. (Read—chatting to the dead) Apparently Anne followed Colin around the tower exclaiming he was the sweetest turtledove she had seen in a while. Mum said I was not allowed to paste it in as it did not put Miss Boleyn in a good light. Whatever that means.
This is the best Grandad in the WORLD! Colin Sebastian Griffin AKA as GG and The Dreamboat.
When GG saw his old shirt pattern, he laughed and said Beryl and Nimmy used to make all of his stylish clothes. Must have been the start of the ‘dapper stage.’ No end in sight. Go GG!
Mock Cream Beryl Cook books and secret recipes. whoops your secret is out!
This is the sewing basket, which contained the toe as well as the hallowed scissors. Feel the chill. I don’t want a photo of the scissors looking up at me all the time. So I am just putting in the basket. Don’t judge … I still am easily freaked. Now I know for sure that anything is possible it is highly possible that the scissors are cursed … just putting it out there.
The tulip garden in Amsterdam 1957, Lucy got cross and had to walk around the tulips twice to calm down as Colin had left their passports on the train. This is where let’s take a walk around the tulips comes from. GG has just admitted it was originally code for I am feeling a bit stressed and I need to move away from you Colin because you are giving me the pip.
Make your own scrapbook about anything that is important to you! Your friends, your family, your grandparents, your pets, your football team, your story idea … anything! Gather memorabilia (cool word for important stuff), stickers, craft paper, glue and scissors and get busy!
Australia is truly story country with our rich cultural diversity. I recently had the privilege of listening to some Year Fours, Fives and Sixes own stories of their family heritage. The scope was wide ranging and many stories were passed down through grandparents.
Lily is an Australian with Vietnamese heritage. Letty, her mother is adopted by the Pinkington family and so happy is Letty she is reluctant to find her birth mother.
But Lily’s heritage makes her look different to her father’s family the Dunnings with their British Australian heritage.
And so Lily finds herself wistfully looking at a blonde Lily and her grandmother’s former youthful self and feeling a strange disconnect. Her sisters Zinnia and Fern feel it as well;
Last Christmas I heard my sisters talking about it too. Fern said she looks Vietnamese but feels ridiculous because she doesn’t know a word of the language, and Zinnia said she was sick of her new Spanish friends asking her to whip a bowl of pho and being surprised when she bakes perfect pumpkin scones.
How readily we stereotype on physical attributes!
When I created Lily she was always going to be of Vietnamese descent and I couldn’t work out why. Sometimes the subconscious is a powerful and mysterious place and mine pulled me by my very thin pony tail straight back into 1977.
I was attending a small school that had a great number of Vietnamese refugees. In my class there were two brothers who spent a lot of time upstairs with the ESL teachers. They were well liked and quiet.
I always dreaded news day (see Anxiety) but it was not my turn to recount my life. I had never been able to top the day I got a baby sister and had only come close with the day the cat had his ears chopped off for health reasons. So I could relax and enjoy the best that Year Two had to offer in entertainment and lifestyle.
It was the Vietnamese brothers turn to tell their news . They talked about their journey across the seas in a small boat accompanied by their families. I couldn’t understand every word and I was drifting off into a Lily-like-self-involved stupor when I was bought back to earth by the eldest brother reenacting a gun to his mother’s head. BANG BANG he shouted with his fingers cocked and armed at his own head. His face became tense and his voice became strong and his words flowed. His smaller brother’s face crumpled at the memory and he sobbed and sobbed. The older brother stopped and cried too. At this moment the ESL teacher wrapped her arms around the brothers and pulled them close and hugged hard. This was the second surprise of the day as I truly thought she disliked children.
The family had set out from Vietnam in 1976 and their small fishing boat had been seized by pirates. I know they all survived but for a few hours they were at the mercy of predators. Thankfully they were picked up and rescued by a friendly vessel. News time was brought to an abrupt conclusion. But within minutes the boys were smiling again, probably with joyful relief they had escaped being pressed into the teacher’s ample knitted bosom. But I was scared, really scared. That moment in our classroom was my first introduction to the big picture of the world, war, survival, death and that we lived in the lucky country we should share.
Day after day I remember watching an elderly Vietnamese man walk his grandchildren to school. With a smile on his face he wore thongs and rather dashing striped pjamas as he meandered down the street. Once I giggled to my mother, how odd to wear your flannettes about town. But I was silenced by the comment he has been through it, he can do what he wants.’ Later I attempted to find the earless cat in the garden without appropriate foot wear and was hauled back inside.
Years later I read Anh Do’s novel The Happiest Refugee and picture book The Little Refugee and his family account of fleeing Vietnam and their own experience with pirates. I really recommend reading both books. Coincidently years ago when in Melbourne I visited a comedy club which was introducing a young comic named Anh Do. Amazing really seeing as I rarely go to such places. (see Anxiety) Check out Anh at http://www.anhdo.com.au/author.html
Many many tens of thousands of political refugees arrived in Australia after the fall of Saigon. Many didn’t make it and were killed or lost at sea. The Whitlam government removed the White Australia Policy that had seen only the movement of Europeans to Australia. Even dear stuck in ’47 Other Lily is a bit of a time warp bigot when she shouts out, ‘Who are you, Chinese child? Do you speak English?‘ … Lily fumes this is ‘very rude and bordering on being racist’. Later Other Lily apologises and clarifies Lily is an Australia with Vietnamese heritage and it is a shame Letty her mother has decided not to look for her birth family.
The Other Christy Oliver is a fantastic book that features a Cambodian family’s transition to Australia. It is written with heart felt humour and empathy. Check Oliver Phommavanh’s website at http://www.oliverwriter.com
Perhaps Letty’s family were not so lucky to make it to Australia leaving her alone and I really want to explore her story in the next Lily adventure!
Many refugees came from Vietnam when I was growing up … which countries need our our support in starting a new life in Australia now?
Well August the 6th saw my family, friends and fellow word nerds go back to 1947 to celebrate the release of Lily in the Mirror. I have to thank Tim Parish for his wonderful speech and for the use of all his vintage props. Thank you to Elle Lambert for her insights into life with a dementia sufferer. Thank you to my husband, Phil who rocked a trilby and to my children who dressed up to the vintage nines with their victory rolls so high. Thank you to Antiquitea for the amazing morning tea and peace of mind! Thank you to Paperbird Books and Art for Kids for the use of the most perfect space and for throwing in the retro tablecloths. Thanks to my parents for helping me always and for Dad lugging vintage props up and down stairs. Big thank you to Jenelle Morris who arrived at 7am and backcombed some body into our hair – you were a calming presence as we all had to behave! Finally thank you to Fremantle Press for getting Lily’s special internal landscape and love of all things dark and mysterious.Oh and for the fabulous cupcakes. Lily In The Icing!
As a jiggly-bottomed girl who can’t do a cartwheel, reviewing a novel that focuses on competitive gymnastics drew some trepidation and perhaps a wobble around my middle. But the The Flyaway Girls is a well paced story for young girls aged between ten and fourteen. I read it one sitting. It flows beautifully like a rhythmic ribbon touching on the nature of friendship, competiveness and self-acceptance. Chelsea is a devoted hard working gymnast who at the ripe old age of eleven has to work out although hard working and dedicated she is not naturally gifted or exceptionally talented. She does not have the right stuff. Chelsea is steaming mad when an untrained new comer Telia, apparently rips her dream position on the coveted National team from her grasp. Chelsea’s focus becomes so intense and driven that it begins to cause her all sorts of problems particularly with her friendships and family. Her obsession to get to the Olympics over rides life. The competitive nature of sport and coaching is called into question. After a knee injury, she is rude to her two friends, Rosie and Gemma who don’t understand her ambition and single mindedness. They are devoted to their musical instruments but choose to enjoy it and take a more moderate approach. Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Dad has chosen to live in Canberra with his new partner and that’s got to hurt. In fact, it is revealed that Chelsea channels her negative feelings to overcome her fear of the vault. It’s a tip she gives Telia who is having problems with this one piece of equipment. Telia is a naturally adept at all sports but doesn’t have that drive and prefers to have fun. Ironically, it is in Telia’s company that Chelsea enjoys herself but the green-eyed monster gets in the way and bridges have to be built. It’s all pretty intense and a little bit alarming that by the end of primary school the girls have worked out their limitations and accepted them. Telia drops out to enjoy the next sport and Chelsea realises she is great at supporting and teaching gymnastics. The two combine their skills and zest for fun to come up with The Flyaway girls, their dance gymnastic display rocks the end of the year concert and a compromise is found. The themes of the natural verses the hard worker, of self-acceptance and seeing where you fit into the big picture of things are well drawn and totally accessible and relevant to the young pre/teen girl.
Reviewed by Paula Hayes CKT Book Reviewer Author: Julia Lawrinson Title: The Flyaway Girls Publisher: Koala Books ISBN: 9780143308652 Published: August 2015
When a child’s book is endorsed by Ricky Gervais you know it’s going to be different and out there and Bear is as cheeky as Gervais on Oscar night.
Bear seems to be furless as he wiggles his bear bare bottom in front of us in the opening pages. Then he pulls on his purple suit and Bear is ‘in da house’. He attempts to eat his friends; steal treats and paints targets on a fellow bear’s derrière. Bear is trouble.
The funky rhyme suits the cheeky bear and it works better as a song. As a story, not so much for me.
I guess when Bear is in his purple suit can be his true self, even if he is a bit of a bad boy.
I recommend enjoying it in its song form for kids over three to six.
The illustrations are bold and bright and bold and really hold your attention. I listened to the rap music version online and I enjoyed it. The author is Ben Bailey and is well known.
Written for: Creative Kids Tales http://www.creativekidstales.com.au
Author: Ben Bailey Illustrator: Sav Akyuz Title: I am Bear Publisher: Walker Books UK ISBN: 9781406359251 Published: Jan 2016 Age: 3+
Set in London 1665 the book opens with orphan apprentice apothecary Christopher Rose executing the most stupidest idea in the universe with his loyal mate Tom, the baker’s son. Clever enough to decipher out the code to make gunpowder, the resulting explosion bring tears to a stuffed bears eyes and to Tom’s. His Master is dismayed at the mess and secretly pleased with his nouse.
But this isn’t the time for mucking about for London apothecaries are being murdered and sadly Tom’s Master Benedict dies. It turns Tom’s world upside down. To survive he is thrust into a world of code cracking, puzzle-solving, cults, alchemists, mutilated bodies and traps within traps.
The Blackthorn Key races along with a cracking pace while delving into the history of England. The relationship between Christopher and Tom keeps the grimness of post plague Restoration England at bay. Here we find true friendship and their feisty repartee is standard young lad lowbrow fun.
My twelve-year-old son read this book with me and I think he struggled a little with the wordiness. For me the history and plot were seamless. He certainly enjoyed the gruesomeness, the action and the banter between the two lads.
Toward the end the story became more religious than historic in its revelations as the pair happened upon ‘the final secret.’
I think it would appeal to boys aged 13-15 as it cracks along with all the mystery and ambience of The Da Vinci Code with the extra quality of a moderated Blackadder type banter.
Written for: Creative Kids Tales http://www.creativekidstales.com.au
Author: Kevin Sands Title: The Blackthorn Key Publisher: Simon & Schuster ISBN: 9780141360645 Published: January 2016 Age: 10+
Yucky, Disgustingly Gross, Icky Short Stories by Susan Berran
Published by Big Sky Publishing
The title says it all.
The cover, a tsunami of snot escaping a small boy’s nose says more.
The disclaimer if you have a weak stomach get a bucket starts to scare me.
The book is broken into five easy to digest short stories. They slide down as easily as ‘a little snot snack.’ The big bold black and white illustrations are a perfect companion.
The treatise Why are Boogas Green? is fascinating stuff. I have sons and nephews. Booga is currency. And it’s all the stuff they talk about.
All the tales are spewalicious and I know that boys who are not into reading will love this (and boys who love to read too). They may even put down their play stations for a moment, it is certainly sickeningly engaging and this is a good thing.
I got lost momentarily when Mum’s family dinner outing ended in the family eating the remains of a washed up whale. I baulked for a second. Too far I thought. Then I worked out it was a family of flies, eeeewhhh and relief.
The disclaimer must have really scared me.
I think for the kids not interested in reading because ‘it’s boring,’ this is something to wet the appetite. It’s not my cup of tea but it has the allure of a fart machine for boys between six and ten.
Written for: Creative Kids Tales http://www.creativekidstales.com.au
Author: Susan Berran Title: Yucky, Disgustingly, Gross, Icky short Stories: Booga Blast Publisher: Big Sky Publishing ISBN: 9781925275360 Published: September 2015 Age: 6+