I, Dougal Daley, am dead! Ok I m not actually dead. But if I m not careful I soon will be.
In this first book, football-loving Dougal Daley finds himself at risk from the mysterious creature living in the garden shed. Nobody believes him but as a precaution, he sets upon writing his will – rewarding those who help him and disinheriting those who get on his bad side. Meanwhile, as limbs and windows alike are broken by rogue footballs and unhinged canines, Dougal finds himself in all sorts of trouble. . .and NONE of it is his fault!
What were your initial thoughts on the book?
I read this book in one sitting. It was funny, addictive and emotional too. I really felt for Dougal throughout the story. The whole narrative worked really well and I am one hundred percent sure that any kid who reads this book will also agree. From parents and sisters who don’t listen to you and blame you, to friends who get caught in the middle of things, this book is full of real-life situations surrounding a very hilarious thing. I loved the ending of the book too. This whole book is full of personality and I cannot wait to read the next one!
Who was your favourite character and why?
The best character is actually one that I can’t really talk about without completely and utterly ruining the story – I know, right? – So instead I will talk about my second favourite character; Dougal. He’s a really interesting character to read about. A true klutz who has a great voice too. I am definitely intrigued to see what happens to him in future books!
Would you recommend this book?
Definitely! Especially to any kid aged between 6 to 10 as they’ll really enjoy everything that happens. The book is written in a diary format with a few chapters that are notes from other characters all intermingled with amazing illustrations which really helps to make this book readable, addictive and fun – everything that books for children should be! If you or your child is looking for a fun and funny book that is similar to the Wimpy Kid books, make sure you give this book a try!
One Sentence Summary (verdict)
A really fun and kid friendly book that has a brilliant main character and a story that is full of personality and creativity.
Reviewed by Faye
Total fantasy bliss! Magical birds, dark forests and fairytale cities: there’s no better book to get lost in. Harper is on a mission! Rumours tell of the mysterious Ice Raven who lives among the ebony trees, singing a magical song that can melt hardened hearts. Now the Wild Conductor wants to capture this mythical bird and create the greatest orchestra ever known. So Harper and her friends set off to find the bird. Their journey takes them from the mysterious Night Forest to the City of Singing Clocks. But soon Harper realises she faces a dilemma. Should a wild, free creature like the Ice Raven ever be tied down?
What were your initial thoughts on the book?
This book is one of those lovely, cute and entertaining reads that I absolutely wish that I had as a child. Harper and the Night Forest is the third book in the Harper series but it was by far my favourite one. Cerrie Burnell’s imagination knows no bounds and I really loved reading about Harper and her friends on their journey into the Night Forest. It was not what I was expecting and I found that to make the book even more interesting to read. I loved the fairy tale aspect and how it all came together in the end. Along with the wonderful story, came the beautiful illustrations by Laura Ellen Anderson. These really brought the story to life in a magnificent way. A truly perfect match between words and pictures.
Who was your favourite character and why?
While I am sure most people would probably choose Harper, I think that my favourite character is actually Nate. He is such a fascinating character and I think it is wonderful to find someone with a sight impairment in a children’s book. Nate can only see shadows and because of it he has a companion wolf who helps to guide him. It means that he can never see the expressions on his friends faces but he can feel when they’re happy or sad. He knows who is near by how they walk and he is excellent at leading his friends when it is dark as it is always dark for him. I really, really loved him as a character and would love to read more.
But really one of the best things about these books are that all of the characters are so vibrant and all work together as a team. Including the “villain” of the books. By the end of each adventure he is always shown why his ideas aren’t so great after all. I think that Cerrie has down a smashing job of creating realistic and likeable characters in all of the Harper books.
Would you recommend this book?
Definitely. These books are magical, and quite literally full of magic. They’re lovely stories. They have heart and emotion and a wondrous childish feel to them. I am certain that both adults and children alike will be blown away by both the adventures that the children go on and also the characters and how they all react. Cerrie has truly created an interesting world for these books to take place in and I just cannot recommend them all highly enough. If you haven’t yet read these books, what are you waiting for?
Summarize the book in one sentence. (Verdict)
Harper and the Night Forest is a splendid book that will steal your heart and fill you with hope all at the same time. It is magical, cute and full of adventure and fun too.
Reviewed by Faye
Eleven year old Olly has a very special delivery – a 3D printing machine, stamped with PROPERTY OF M.O.D and BRITISH SPACE AGENCY. WARNING. DO NOT TAMPER, which has magical powers… It has a name, it speaks, and it can print ANYTHING Olly asks it to – the coolest new toy, a room full of chocolate cake – but what Olly really wants is… his dad.
If you had to describe your book on twitter (140 characters), how would you?
Kids get access to super billion pound 3D printer. They print sweets and a swimming pool then a replica of their Dad. Things go very wrong!
What gave you the inspiration for this book?
I was reading a science magazine article about 3D printers. I was thinking about all the amazing things we can make now, from musical instruments to food to car parts. I started thinking about what we will be printing in ten or twenty years time, and so invented a machine that could print Anything and Everything.
Do you have any habits when you write? (i.e. have to have coffee/listen to music)
I just need to become invisible, for an hour or two so that my family don’t require my services! (I have 4 children) and maybe not too much howling in the background. I write on my laptop anywhere they can’t see me!
What would you create if you could create anything?
I LIKE this question. I’ll create an invisibility machine ha ha, and then a hovering machine, so I can fly around, but not too high because I’m not wild about heights. I’d create a slug-singer, which lures slugs away from my realm. I’d create a portable light beam-machine, which, when you switch on, it colours the wi-fi and mobile signal hotspots, and makes them visible so you could step into them (and out of them) and communicate as needed. (In my rural home phone signals and wi-fi are like rare wildlife. You know they are there but they are intermittent) I could be here all day on this question so will stop here…
What is your favourite children’s book?
You can’t ask me that! I don’t have one, I have many. And my favourite children’s books now are different to when I was a child, or teen. But when I was little I loved Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising) I loved The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, When I was a bit older I loved Margaret Mahy’s The Changeover, now I am reading to my own children I love ‘The Pencil’ by Allan Ahlberg, and I remember being blown away by Skellig by David Almond, in my twenties. There are so many brilliant children’s books around now it is impossible to choose.
Who is your favourite author ever?
Again, I don’t have one. Some days a favourite just won’t do and someone completely different is the winner. I love the twisted, dark and crazed imaginative world of the Gormenghast books by Melvyn Peake, I am also a die-hard fan of Jilly Cooper. I love Robert Harris’s thrillers. I also just read ‘Elizabeth and her German Garden,’ by Elizabeth von Arnim, which was a breath of fresh air even though it was first published over a hundred years ago. I also just read ‘Skinny Dip’ by Carl Hiaasen, which was irreverent, wicked, rude and funny. I must try and read some more of his books.
What would you say to a child who wants to be an author when they grow up?
Read, read, read, fill your mind with words and stories. Read comics and newspapers and cereal packets as well as books. If you find reading difficult, listen to audiobooks. Nag your parents to buy you books and comics. Join the library and use it. Be nosey about people. Notice interesting things about them, be it the way they spit when they say ’Thank-you,’ or the shaved eyebrows, or the eye-watering perfume, or the skull earrings, or the deep etched frown-wrinkles. Look for the story in people. Boredom is also very important if you want to be creative. Give yourself time between activities to get so bored you start inventing things. Boredom is a portal to creativity.
Are you working on another book? If you are, can you tell us anything about it?
Two of my sons have become obsessed with football. The eldest, who is nine, most of all. I have had to immerse myself in this world. It has been a steep learning curve. Usually when I think a lot about something I end up writing about it, and so, I have nearly finished the first draft of a football book, about a kid’s team. My son is my test reader and keeps me in check with correct terminology and makes sure I don’t veer away too much from the action. It’s called ‘The Flyers.’
Ally Kennen has been an archaeologist, museum guard and singer-songwriter. Her dark and thrilling teen novels have been nominated for over eleven literary awards. She lives in Somerset with her husband and four children.
Questions By Faye
John Watson has barely settled into his new school, Baker Street Academy, when his teacher announces a trip to one of London’s top museums, home to the world’s most famous jewel. But it’s been stolen! When police catch the thief it seems the case is closed. Can Sherlock Holmes uncover the mystery behind this extraordinary gem?
We have three copies of this fabulous sounding book to giveaway to our lovely followers!
This is the perfect book for those children who love mysterious books, it’s a graphic novel so it’s also great for those who struggle to read long blocks of text.
It’s exciting and thrilling and will keep them turning the page. Can they figure it out before the great Sherlock Holmes himself?
To enter the giveaway all you need to do is comment below with your favourite mystery book!
Winners will be contacted via e-mail and will have 28 days to respond with their address.
Thorn, an outlaw’s son, wasn’t supposed to be a slave. He’s been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they’re headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.
Lilith Shadow wasn’t supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?
Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.
First up, can you tell us something unique about you?
I have no birth certificate.
What was your favourite part about writing Shadow Magic?
The scenes in Castle Gloom. It was great to create the spookiest haunted house ever, but one where people lived in, and loved. I loved writing about the characters who lived there, all the way from lily who rules it down to the old servants who moan and groan but you know, deep down, would never wish to be anywhere else. And of course the ghosts who’ve been there longest of all…
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Oh, that changes all the time. This year it was a balcony in Croatia, at night, watching the lights of the boats on the sea.
If you could have one fictional character as a best friend, who would you choose and why?
Superman. He’s my favourite superhero and I’d like to know how he remains good in such a world. It must be nigh-impossible.
Who is your favourite character in Shadow Magic?
Gabriel. He’s horrible, selfish, nasty and completely useless. But by the end you sort of feel sorry of him.
When you’re in the writing zone, do you have any peculiar habits? (i.e. writing in a dark room, drinking bizarre drinks).
I like writing in cafes. I write better when there’s some background activity. Ok, it’s not that odd. The study at home is south-facing, so sometimes during the summer I write with my trousers off. Is that better?
What was your favourite book as a child?
The Hobbit. It’s still my favourite book.
If you had to describe Shadow Magic in a tweet (140 characters) what would you say?
Take one princess of darkness. Add an outlaw boy. Shake in some giant vampire bat. Then give them the job of saving the kingdom of undead!
Questions by Faye
Isla’s search for her missing brother, Pirie, has brought her to the vast Wildlands. The forest is a treacherous place for a fox cub, but Isla is talented in foxcraft — ancient arts of cunning known only to her kind.
Skilled though she is, Isla’s grasp of foxcraft is still new. And she’s not alone… A cruel and mysterious fox stalks the forest, with the power to enslave others to his will. In order to survive, Isla must learn to trust in the rustic Wildlands foxes.
But there are tales of others — a council of Elders who are masters of foxcraft, and who warily guard its most potent secrets. If Isla wishes to master her gifts and find her brother, then the Elders may be her only hope.
First things first, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
Hello! Hmm, let me think… I was born in Jerusalem but if you go back far enough, the Iserles family was Spanish – and interestingly, that’s where most people guess I’m from on the basis of looks.
What else? Not a lot of people know that while I love aubergines in almost every form, I’m scared to touch them because I burned my hand on one as a child.
And finally… Although I have an incredibly sweet dog, a Japanese Spitz called Michi, I would never define myself as a “dog person” or a “cat person”. I’m an animal lover and it’s in my DNA. As a child, I appalled my grandmothers by feeding stray cats and nagged my parents for pets of every kind (including hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, cats and a guinea pig). I love all animals really… Yes, even rats. Even snakes. This doesn’t mean I’d invite either into my bed!
How different was it writing a sequel?
In some ways, writing a sequel is easier as you have already established the parameters of the world – something that requires careful handling in fantasy. One of the challenges is how to recap on the previous book without bogging down the action. I prefer a light touch where possible, with gentle clues and reminders buried in plot-driven sequences.
What is your favourite aspect of writing?
I absolutely love thinking up stories. The thrill of new landscapes, of magic and fantasy worlds… The shaping of characters… This is what I live for. I’m less of a natural editor as by the time I’m editing the manuscript, I already know what happens, and I’m excited to get to the next thing. To edit, one needs patience – a quality I possibly don’t have in abundance…
Where is your favourite place to write?
I usually write in my study. I love the idea of writing in cafes but I’m far too easily distracted. I download playlists for each book but I don’t listen to music while I actually write. I’m a fan of writing retreats when these are feasible, and my favourite bolt hole is a lovely little place on the Suffolk coast, nestled between marshes, woodland and sea.
Can you tell us anything exciting about your main protagonist?
The series is told in first person through the eyes of Isla, a young fox. She returns to her den to discover that her family has disappeared and strange foxes are circling. The den itself smells of cinders. The foxes turn on her and she flees into the night. That is how the adventure begins…
I found it thrilling to narrate a story through a fox’s perspective. Isla is brave, loyal and stubborn. True to her kind, she is inquisitive – sometimes at her own expense. She takes risks.
If you could live in any fictional world, where would you choose to live?
Hobbiton in Middle Earth, but only after Sauron has been vanquished!
What was your favourite book to read as a child?
As a young child, I was a fan of Mog, Judith Kerr’s famously forgetful cat. I then became enchanted by Tove Jansson’s Moomin adventures. I still adore all things Moomin! Moving into my teens, my favourite book was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Such characters, such a sense of time, of mood. Of jeopardy and hope!
Can you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters)
Foxcraft: The Elders
Isla’s quest continues. The mysterious Elder Foxes hide deep in the Wildlands. Can they unlock the secret of her brother’s disappearance?
Questions by Faye
We are delighted to welcome
Chloe never means to get into trouble but sometimes her plans get a little out of control. With her two best friends, she forms a Secret Club dedicated to making their dreams come true – but fantasy and reality don’t always mix!
Where did the idea come from for Chloe’s Secret Princess Club?
There were a few different things that came together. I’d really wanted to write about a very imaginative, dreamy little girl – somebody who tended to get carried away by her own fantasies. So that was Chloe. And so many girls go through a “princess” stage – I thought it would be really fun to see a group of girls trying to act out their princess fantasies in real life and the kind of disasters that could follow on from that!
What was your favourite book to read as a child?
There were so many. One was Harriet the Spy, which was maybe the inspiration for the fact that Chloe and her friends write things down in a secret notebook, just as Harriet did. I also loved the Narnia books, including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – which Chloe also loves and which leads her into trouble in chapter one.
What is your favourite thing about being a children’s author?
Working in my pyjamas! Coming up with crazy ideas in my head, and trying to get them down on paper in all their craziness. I also love meeting children and seeing how they respond to the books – even when they mistake me for Enid Blyton, which actually happened once.
Are you a planner or a panther?
I do both. Typically I do plan, but then a lot of the story changes when I write (and rewrite) the book.
What are your top three places to write?
Libraries. Trains. And I love cafes – my favourite is the Opposite Cafe in my hometown of Leeds.
What are you currently working on?
That’s a secret! It’s too early to tell anyone – it needs nursing a bit longer.
What is your favourite fairytale?
Cinderella. It’s such a classic.
If you had to describe your book in a tweet (140 characters), what would you say?
Chloe is determined to be a princess – and she isn’t going to let ordinary life get in her way!
Interview questions by Faye
Emma is the author of several books for children, including JESSICA HAGGERTHWAITE: WITCH DISPATCHER, for which she was nominated for the Branford Boase award, and the WILD THING series. As well as writing, she enjoys spending time working in schools and libraries. You can learn more about Emma and her work by visiting her website (here),Facebook Page (here), or her Twitter account (here)
From the Winner of the Scholastic Montegrappa Prize for New Children’s Writing It’s Halloween at Saint Smithen’s. When the Brimwell town hall burns down, the amateur production of Macbeth is moved to the school and it’s all hands on deck. But when the play is struck by a series of mysterious attacks, it’s up to Poppy, her friends and her circus family to save the play and unmask the culprit.
Five Reasons to Read this Series
All I can really say about Poppy is that she is an incredible character that I really love. She’s got an amazing spirit, she’s quirky and interesting and the kind of girl that I would have loved to have been friends with at eleven. She is a brilliant character to read about and definitely makes the series great fun to read!
Ingrid & Kip
Poppy’s new-found friends at boarding school, these two characters help form a strong trio in the books that is wonderful to read about. It helps show how amazing and powerful friendship can be and also how important it is too. I love Ingrid’s dreamy personality and Kip’s love of adventure. They definitely make this series more interesting.
The Circus Family
One of the main things I absolutely loved about Poppy Pym was the circus family. They all have unique personalities and as a whole make a very dysfunctional family unit but their love for Poppy is incredibly strong. I also love that this book shows adoption in a positive light whereas Poppy is very fortunate with all the love she gets from her adoptive circus family.
In both books in this series there is a mystery to be solved and I loved reading it through with Poppy as we try to work out what is going on. I’m a sucker for mystery books anyway but in Poppy Pym, the mysterious are so intriguing and really keep you glued to the page from beginning to end. I also love that there was also so much more to these stories than just the mysteries to be solved too!
The Writing Style
Lastly, but certainly not least, I absolutely fell in love with the writing style of these books. It was addictive and fun all at the same time. I devoured the words on the page quickly and fiercely. The writing really pulls you into Poppy’s world and is full of quirky and interesting descriptions of the world as Poppy sees it. It’s fun for both adults and children and I can really see children falling head over heels for these books!
Posted by Faye
We are delighted to welcome
Life was very ordinary for ten-year-old Robyn Silver. The often-ignored middle child in a big family, the most excitement she had was the dash to the dinner table to reach the last slice of pizza. Until… she begins to see creepy creatures around her town – creatures that are invisible to everyone else. And when her school is forced to decamp to mysterious Grimdean House and she meets its equally mysterious owner, Mr Cryptorum, Robyn finds herself catapulted headfirst into an extraordinary adventure – with more excitement than she could possibly have imagined. Be careful what you wish for…
Robyn Silver sounds like a really fun and adventurous character, how did you come up with her and what is your favourite aspect of her personality?
I wanted to write about a girl who thinks she’s nothing special – someone who doesn’t have any particular skills or talents. Then she’s put in an extraordinary situation and she finds out she has tonnes of grit and determination. That’s my favourite thing about her.
Where is your favourite place to write your books?
It would be so awesome to say a little house by the sea! I love the coast but I live nowhere near it. I write at my computer in my dining room. It’s near the kettle which is important.
What is your favourite part of being a Children’s author?
Meeting readers! It’s so much fun to talk about books to children. I used to be a teacher so I did this even before I changed profession. Seeing my story brought to life inside a fantastic book jacket is amazing too.
Do you plot your novels or just see where they take you?
I plot them but once I start writing that plan often goes out the window. That’s OK though. It’s important to listen to where the characters are taking you – as long as the characters are being true to themselves you won’t go wrong.
Why do you think books for children are important?
They’re part of the process of learning about the world and literally growing an imagination. Also, to put my teacher hat back on, research shows that children who read for pleasure do better in all subjects at school including maths. I wish there was even more of a drive to get children reading. I know there’s great work going on but I’d love to see a big government backed drive that would recognise the power of reading to benefit children’s futures.
If you had to face one of the supernatural creatures in Robyn Silver, which would you prefer to face?
Oh tricky! A kobold would be the least dangerous but they look like a goblin crossed with a porcupine and they have a very nasty temper.
Do you possess any of the same personality traits as Robyn Silver?
I’m persistent to the point of being down-right obstinate. I’m not sure how endearing this is! I’ll ask my husband.
If you had to describe your book in a tweet (140 characters) what would you say?
Born on the stroke of midnight, Robyn Silver is drawn into a world of monsters. Luckily she has friends and a hidden talent at sword fighting
Paula Harrison is a best-selling children’s author, with worldwide sales of over one million copies. Her books include The Rescue Princesses series. She wanted to be a writer from a young age but spent many happy years being a primary school teacher first. you can learn more about Paula and her work by visiting her Website (here) or her Twitter account (here).
Five Fabulous Books is an original feature here at Big Book Little Book. The aim of the feature is to showcase fabulous books and bookish things, with connecting themes, there by promoting reads we have enjoyed and sharing recommendations for similar books. We love to share contributions from fellow bibliophiles, bloggers, vloggers and twitter users. We love to hear from you too, so don’t forget to comment with your favourite themed books. You are very welcome to use the Five Fabulous feature on your own blog just be sure to link back to Big Book Little Book and leave your link in the comments below so we can check out your recommendations! Feel free to copy and paste our Fabulou5 graphic or create one of your own.
Okay, here’s my top MG of 2016!
I love MG fiction and have started reading it a lot more this year. I still have a large backlog to get through but here are my favourites of 2016 so far!
Erica’s Elephant by Sylvia Bishop
This is one of the most cute and magical books that I’ve read this year. It has incredible illustrations to go along with it and the story is just so sweet and imaginative. I am so sure that a lot of children will eat this story up as it is just so wonderful!
Perijee & Me by Ross Montgomery
Yet another cute MG story! This book is about a girl who befriends an alien but it doesn’t quite go to plan. It is enthralling, powerful and has a wonderful protagonist at the centre too. It’s also quite emotional too. I am positive that this will be devoured by children!
How To Look for a Lost Dog by Anne M. Martin
There are not enough words to describe how much I absolutely adore this book. It is about a girl with high-functioning autism and it is an incredible read. It is a wonderful book to explain autism to children as well as just having a lovely story at the centre of it about a girl trying to find her dog after a bad storm. A story of hope, love and acceptance.
Girl with a White Dog by Anne Booth
As above, not enough words to explain how amazing this book is. About a girl whose Gran gets a lovely white dog and how that sets off a chain of events that link the story to WW2. It’s an uplifting but sad story that is full of emotions, and hope. It is just an educational story that I think a lot of children should read and are also likely to love.
Squishy McFluff: Seaside Rescue by Pip Jones
This is a cute, fun and playful MG that I read quickly and just enjoyed from start to finish. Squishy McFluff is an invisible cat and in this book, they go to the seaside. It was a really lovely story that is full of spirit and will thrill any animal lover from start to finish – especially those that love a little bit of mischief too!
Posted by Faye