Archives for children’s books

Book review: The Mysterious Beach Hut

This is a traditional children’s tale centred on a beach hut on the seafront at Brighton which is the doorway to another world. The Mysterious Beach Hut by Jacky Atkins is a time-travel tale in which sisters Holly and Beth find themselves on Brighton beach as England stands on the brink of the Great War. Brighton today is recognizable, but as soon as the girls step back into 1914 it is a radically different place. The costumes, the games, the speech, the West Pier in all its glory, the things that people are talking about. The sisters struggle to come to terms with what their eyes are seeing but their brains can’t process. “Something had changed. The light was different. Just for a moment, it felt as if they were looking at a heat mirage when the bottom of the picture you see becomes slightly waxy and hazy. It was almost as if, for a split second, time had stood still.” The sisters meet Marjorie who becomes their new best friend and guide to this strange world. But being a time-traveller is difficult. Holly, the older sister, knows something of the history of World War One from school, and finds it
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Holes

This book by Louis Sachar has been sitting on my shelf forever but I picked it up this week when I exhausted my Kindle’s battery. How lovely to hold an actual book again. I know this is a book for tweens, but I’d heard such good things about it that I wanted to see for myself. I loved the premise: that Stanley is wrongly found guilty of stealing a pair of trainers and is sent to a juvenile correction camp where the punishment is to dig a hole a day. Five feet deep and five feet wide. Every day. It is supposed to be character-building, but Stanley thinks there is another agenda. “There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. There once was a very large lake here, the largest lake in Texas. That was over a hundred years ago. Now it is just a dry, flat wasteland.” It is a story about finding out who you are, standing up to bullies and finding your bravery. “Out on the lake, rattlesnakes and scorpions find shade under rocks and in the holes dug by the campers.” Woven in with the day-to-day tale of hole-digging is the background to Stanley’s unlucky family;
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Stay Where You Are and Then Leave

I’m sure this will be the first of many books about the First World War which I will read over the next two years, and what a one to start with. Written by John Boyne, probably best known for The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas [now released as a film] this is a touching story of a boy’s determination to help his soldier father. Destined to become a children’s classic, it is a tough tale with a tender touch. Boyne doesn’t shy away from the difficult subjects of enemy aliens, conscientious objectors, loss, injury, death and fear. On July 28th 1914, war is declared. It is also Alfie Summerfield’s fifth birthday. His biggest wish is to go one morning with his father Georgie on the milk cart with his horse Mr Asquith. Life changes for Alfie and his mother without Georgie. As the years pass, Alfie stops believing the grown-ups who say the war ‘will be over by Christmas’. Then his father’s letters stop arriving. Alfie’s mother says Georgie is ‘on a special mission and cannot write’ but Alfie doesn’t believe her. He doesn’t like being treated as a child, so he decides to do something about it. This is a
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Categories: Book Love.

If books were real, Torak…

Torak …would not worry about eating Toad in the Hole, no matter what the sausages were made of.   ‘Wolf Brother’ by Michelle Paver [UK: Orion] How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Agatha Raisin in ‘Something Borrowed, Someone Dead’ Mikael Blomkvist in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo’ Hermione Granger ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: If #books were real, Torak would not eat veggie sausages: WOLF BROTHER by @MichellePaver via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-b9
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Categories: Book Love and If books were real....

A book I love… The Wind in the Willows

One of the reasons I still love my copy of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, is the actual edition: a green cloth-covered hardback with a green paper cover.  I can remember the excitement at being given a hardback book which in 1969 was expensive. I was more used to devouring as many Famous Five and Secret Seven books as possible that we could pick up secondhand at the school fete: my reading at that age was voracious. The book was a birthday gift from my parents for my ninth birthday, the birthday greeting inside is written in my elder sister’s neat italic script. It never dawned on me that the language was old-fashioned – Oddsboddikins! – I just lapped it up. Today the book sits on my bookshelf between Kate Grenville’s The Secret River, and Stamboul Train by Graham Greene.   ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame [UK: Wordsworth Editions] And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame http://wp.me/p5gEM4-cZ #bookreview via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love.

A book I love… Swallows and Amazons

What a heady mix: adventures on a lake, sailing, camping on your own island, a battle with a pirate. I did so want to be Nancy, though I admired Titty’s night alone on the island. I eventually went to the Lake District on a school trip, and learned to sail in Filey Bay with my brother. I never fought a pirate though. After this book I read all the other adventures of the Swallows and Amazons, and the Big Six. ‘Swallows and Amazons’ by Arthur Ransome [UK: Vintage Children’s Classics] And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS by Arthur Ransome http://wp.me/p5gEM4-dQ #bookreview via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love.