Posts Tagged ‘middle grade’

Poppy Pym and the Smugglers Secret

Laura Wood
Poppy is thrilled that they’re spending the summer at Smuggler’s Cove. It might even take her mind off the mystery of her past. But Poppy is about to make some amazing discoveries – and solve more than one mystery…

What were your initial thoughts on the book?

Another great adventure with Poppy and her friends and I think this one is my favourite mystery so far because there are actually 2 different mysteries, could they be linked together? I really enjoyed reading it especially after the cliff-hanger in the second book about Poppy and her birth mother.

Who was your favourite character and why?

My favourite character is still Poppy because she is brave in every possible way. She handles mystery very well, especially the really scary ones, she listens to her friends even if she is the leader of the group, takes their ideas into the adventure, even if she might not agree with them and, most importantly, she stays a loyal friend to them even in the hard times.

Would you recommend this book?

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys adventures and mysteries from ages 9 up, especially if they aren’t scared easily because this one is a bit scary.

Summarize the book in one sentence.

A great adventure that leads to more mysterious events in every chapter.

Reviewed by Jimena (11)

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: May 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Genre: Mystery
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jimena (11)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Chasing Danger: Mystery at the Ice Hotel

Sara Grant
After surviving a pirate attack in the tropics, teens Chase and Mackenzie escape to an exclusive resort in the Arctic Circle. But just after they arrive, suspicious accidents begin to occur. It seems like someone’s trying to scare away the guests. When the accidents turn deadly, it’s up to the girls to figure out whodunit … before they become the next victims.
This holiday’s going to be killer!

What were your initial thoughts on the book?

My initial thoughts about the book were “I am going to love this book like I did with the first”, and I was right. I enjoyed this one even more than the first, because this one has more mystery, and it is longer!

Who was your favourite character and why?

My favourite character or characters in this book are still Chase and Mackenzie because they are both very different, opposite characters one could say, and from time to time they have to do what the other one wants which is the opposite of what they would have done in the first place.

Would you recommend this book?

I would recommend this book to older readers (10 upwards) who enjoy frightening bits, because it is a little bit scary, especially the murder or murder attempts.

Verdict: A scary adventure that you will enjoy. You won’t be able to wait to see what happens next!

Reviewed by Jimena (10)

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272
Genre: Mystery
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jimena
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Poppy Pym and the Double Jinx

Laura Wood
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.

What were your initial thoughts on the book?

My initial thoughts of the book were, another mystery in Poppy’s first year at Saint Smithen’s School; this must be a busy year for Poppy! Poppy might want to take everything into her own hands but she still lets her friends have their own way from time to time, because she is their best friend, and listens to their ideas, even if they aren’t good ones in the end.

Who was your favourite character and why?

My favourite character is still Poppy Pym because she is adventurous and will carry on with the mystery, even if it leads to a dead end after a nice try- she never gives up. I always seem to like the main character because most authors make the main character very likeable. The main character, in this case Poppy Pym, is always in the story, wherever it goes.

Would you recommend this book?

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries and enjoys it, from ages 9 up, it is a bit scary so don’t read in the dark if you get scared easily (they mention it in the book).

Verdict: It’s Halloween at Saint Smithen’s and the village is putting on a play, but after a terrible fire and terrible incidents everyone believes the play’s jinxed. A wonderful yet mysterious story.

Reviewed by Jimena(10)

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 224
Genre: Mystery
Age: Middle Grage
Reviewer: Jimena (10)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Chasing Danger

Sara Grant
When Chase Armstrong (please don’t call her Charlotte) is sent to visit her Grandmother at a remote tropical resort, she is looking forward to sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling. The last thing she expects is danger. But when modern day pirates attack the island and take the guests hostage, it’s up to Chase to try and save her grandmother and herself, before it’s too late!

What were your initial thoughts on the book?

My first thoughts about the book where “I am not going to like this book”, but the minute I turned the page I had no words, it felt as if I was actually inside the story. This, I think, is one of my many favourite books.

Who was your favourite character and why?

I actually have two favourite characters in this book because they both have very different personalities. My two favourite characters are Chase (Charlotte) and Mackenzie, Chase is very brave and determined to save the day from modern-day pirates, but Mackenzie just wants to leave it to the adults and not interfere, as she doesn’t want to risk their lives. Chase, luckily, has ways of making Mackenzie risk it all, and, of course, her ways always work.

Would you recommend this book?

I would recommend this book to older readers which don’t get scared easily because this book is quite scary.

Verdict: A scary and mysterious adventure that makes you live the adventure as if you were part of the story.

Reviewed by Jimena (10)

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: April 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 240
Genre: Action, adventure
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jimena (10)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge:None
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Foxcraft: The Taken

Inbali Iserses
Isla and her brother are two young foxes living just outside the lands of the furless — humans. The life of a fox is filled with dangers, but Isla has begun to learn mysterious skills meant to help her survive.
Then the unthinkable happens. Returning to her den, Isla finds it set ablaze and surrounded by strange foxes, and her family is nowhere in sight. Forced to flee, she escapes into the cold, gray world of the furless.
Now Isla must navigate this bewildering and deadly terrain, all while being hunted by a ruthless enemy. In order to survive, she will need to master the ancient arts of her kind — magical gifts of cunning known only to foxes. She must unravel the secrets of fox craft.

What were your initial thoughts on the book?
When I started to read the first three chapters I was really enjoying the book until the one horrible accident that changed the entire story and as I read on I started to feel less absorbed in to the story however, I still want to carry on reading through the series to see what happens next.

Who was your favourite character and why?
My favourite character is Isla because she is a very fierce and brave fox who cares for her family. Isla is very playful and great at imitating birds. Every day is a new adventure for Isla as she travels through different places for one special adventure…

Would you recommend this book?
I personally didn’t like this book like I liked others but I would recommend it to girls and boys who like fox books and are interested in adventures from age 9 up.

Summarise the book in one sentence.
A heart-breaking adventure to search for the one thing she loves…

Jimena Gutierrez-Reviriego (10)

Publisher: Scholastic press
Publication Date: September 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 257
Genre: Animal, Fantasy
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jimena
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Clover Moon

Jacqueline Wilson
Clover Moon’s imagination is her best escape from a life of hardship in poverty-stricken Victorian London. When tragedy plunges her into a world of grief, Clover realizes that everything she loved about the place she called home is gone. Clover hears of a place she could run to, but where will she find the courage – and the chance – to break free? And could leaving her family be just what she needs to find a place that really feels like home?

What were your initial thoughts on the book?
I really enjoyed reading Clover Moon by Jaqueline Wilson because I always enjoy her books.
I thought the book was very emotional and funny.
I mostly enjoyed reading this book because it doesn’t have any pictures except for one at the beginning of every chapter which lets me use my imagination to make the people in my head by using the description from the book.

Who was your favourite character and why?
My favourite character is Clover Moon because she is the bravest, funniest, most adventurous girl and she cares for other people. Clover turns everything into an adventure which makes very easy to like her.

Would you recommend this book?
If you like Hetty Feather then you will definitely like Clover Moon because they are set in the same place and have some characters in common. I would recommend this book to other girls -from age 9- that are interested in adventures happening in the present, past or future.

Summarise the book in one sentence.
Clover Moon is a fun, attractive book that drags you in to the story the minute you turn the page.

Jimena Gutierrez-Reviriego (10)

Publisher: Doubleday Children’s
Publication Date: October 2016
Format: Hardback
Pages: 400
Genre: Historical fiction
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jimena
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Blog Tour: Shadow Magic

Joshua Khan

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

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Genre: Fantasy
Age: Upper MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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My Top Ten Secret Gardens

Big Book Little Book is delighted to host author Holly Webb as she shares her top ten secret gardens.
Holly has written a sequel to one of my favourite childhood books, The Secret Garden. Dickon, from the original story, was one of my very first book crushes, before I even knew what a crush was. There was something so wonderful about the walled garden, a secret , special place away from the adults, where the children were in charge, and in the case of Dickon, much more knowledgeable than the adults. I am really looking forward to sharing the story with my children in the future and this exciting follow up.
With out further ado, over to Holly.

Return to the Secret GardenIt’s 1939 and a group of children have been evacuated to Misselthwaite Hall. Emmie is far from happy to have been separated from her cat and sent to a huge old mansion. But soon she starts discovering the secrets of the house – a boy crying at night, a diary written by a girl named Mary and a garden. A very secret garden…

1. Great Maytham Hall

Frances Hodgson Burnett lived in this house in Kent from the mid-1890s, and the walled rose garden was her inspiration for The Secret Garden. She wrote in a little summerhouse in the corner of the garden. The garden is open one day a week under the National Gardens Scheme.
Click here learn more about Great Maytham Hall , or here to find a garden

2. Misselthwaite Manor, from The Secret Garden

The site of the secret garden itself – in amongst the kitchen gardens and orchards, surrounded by a high brick walls. Mary first discovers the garden in winter, and the trails of roses look grey and dead. Only the little green points of the bulbs give any clue to the garden that’s waiting to come alive.

3. My childhood garden

I grew up in a Victorian house in South London, with a long, narrow garden. My parents still live in the same house, but strangely, the garden seems much smaller now! I remember it as huge, and full of hiding places…

4. The garden in The Magician’s Nephew

I loved (still love) the Narnia books, and this garden is fascinating – Polly and Digory fly on the winged horse Fledge (possibly my favourite character) to pick an apple from the tree in this walled garden.

5.Miniature gardens

While she’s still living in India, Mary Lennox makes toy gardens, picking flowers and arranging them in the dusty earth. I used to do this too, and I loved making gardens in trays with my children.

6. Kew Gardens

Not a secret at all, of course. But I remember visiting these as a child, and being fascinated by the glass houses, with the enormous water lilies. I loved fairy tales, and Beatrix Potter’s Jeremy Fisher, and I was sure there were secret creatures living in those glass houses.
To learn more about Kew Gardens visit their website here.

7. Thumbelina’s garden

In Hans Christian Andersen’s story, Thumbelina appears inside a flower. After a whole series of adventures, she and her friend the swallow find a meadow full of flowers, and Thumbelina meets a flower fairy prince. I don’t know why, but I’ve always imagined that the flowers were tulips!

8. RHS Wisley

Again, I visited these gardens as a child, but all I remember is a house made out of wisteria. It was a summerhouse, completed surrounded by the purple flowers, and I wanted to live there. The wisteria in my own garden now is one of my favourite things! Looking at photos of Wisley’s long pergolas, I wonder if imagined that the house was round? But I’m sure it was… There’s a wisteria pergola at Great Maytham, too. I changed the idea of the summerhouse slightly for Return to the Secret Garden, my character Emmie imagines herself a house of flowers, but hers is made of roses and honeysuckle. (It would have been wisteria, except in the book it was the wrong time of year!)
Learn more about Wisley here

9. The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Real life secret gardens! Heligan was abandoned during the First World War, and the gardens were rediscovered and recreated in the 1990s.
Discover them for yourself by following this link.

10.The garden next-door, from Moving Molly by Shirley Hughes

One of my favourite books ever. I read it so many times, and I still have my copy. Molly moves house and finds that the garden next door has been abandoned – it’s a paradise for tigerish cats, and full of adventures.

Post by Holly Webb

Holly Webb_RTSG2Holly Webb is the author of Dog Magic, Cat Magic, and Lost in the Snow. She has always loved animals and owns two very spoiled cats. They haven’t said a word to her yet, but she’s always listening, just in case! She lives in England.

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TTT: The Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the wonderful, list making gurus, The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they publish a new Top Ten list and invite their fellow book bloggers, vloggers and bookworms to join in.

As you can probably surmise form the reduced number of post from me over the last few months ( well year really), things are pretty busy here at Big Book Little Book HQ. Who knew that a newborn and her big siblings, a large labrador and house renovations took up so much time 😉 As a result of not being able to commit as much time to the blog, or indeed to reading in general, I have made a concerted effort to not acquire many new books. I hate to call it a ban, for me that is as effective as saying no to chocolate because you are on a diet, it just makes me want it MORE. No matter how hard I try, every now and then i’ll come across a book that I simply can’t say no to, that I simply HAVE to say YES PLEASE, SIGN ME UP, TAKE MY MONEY and occasionally there are those gorgeous little little unsolicited, bubble wrapped, surprises that land on your doormat.

In no particular order (because I am so disorganised and have no idea as and when these beauties came in to my possession )

1. Colour Me Mindful: Underwater by Anastasia Catris
When the lovelies at Orion offered me the opportunity to take a look at the latest thing in relaxation and mindfulness I couldn’t resist finding out what all of the fuss was about. I think that it is safe to say that I am totally hooked. I started out using my children’s colouring pencils but quickly found myself frustrated at the limited colour selection. Now my obsession is such that I have had to order my very own set of fine line colouring pens. The only thing not relaxing about this book and its Birds and Tropical counterparts, is keeping them away from my seven year old.

2. The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke
Cat Clarke is one of those authors who’s work caught me attention early on, when I devoured entangled, and who’s subsequent works I have collected but not gotten around to reading. When the Bookish Brits ( view our channel here) were offered the opportunity to read Cat’s latest book for June’s book club I jumped at the chance to take part.

3. Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens
I know, I know, I know and this being a blog which prides itself on reading books from all age categories! I’m almost embarrassed to have not yet read this hugely hyped middle grade book. Because I have only heard good things, from peoples who’s book recommendations I trust implicitly, I couldn’t resist snapping this up at a recent ebook sale.

4. Fail Human Heart by Zoe Marriott
The final book in the Name of the Blade trilogy. I love this series so much and I can’t wait to get suck back in to this urban fantasy.

5. The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
It’s Ness, enough said.

6.Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
I absolutely loved Seraphina, so much so that I listed its sequel as one of my most anticipated reads of 2014. Oppps I think some one was a little over excited! Shadow Scale was actually released in March of this year and not only did I preorder the hardback I also preordered the audiobook too.

7. The Almost King by Lucy Saxon
One of those bubble wrapped surprises. Lucy is a UKYA author about which I have heard only good things. I am ashamed to have not discovered her work for myself yet.

8. One by Sarah Crossan
A YA book written in verse! I can’t wait to give it a try.

9. The Curious Tale Of The Lady Of Caraboo by Catherine Johnson
Pruedence raved about Catherine’s previous book Sawbones (click here to read her review)when she read it last year. Once again Catherine delves in to history, this time to share her version of the events surrounding real life Mary Wilcox. #WeNeedDiverseBooks

10.The Amazing Human Body Detectives by Maggie Li
Non fiction books are like busses. You don’t see any on Big Book Little book for ages and then two crop up in one post! When the lovely people at Pavilion offered me the opportunity to take a look at this gorgeous fact book I just couldn’t resist. I find human biology absolutely fascinating and I am attracted to anything that allows me to share this fascination with my own children. It’s been a hit so far with the seven and five year old fighting over who got to use the magnifying glass!

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Posted by Caroline

What was the last book you bought, borrowed or requested?

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Witch Wars Review and Author Interview

Sibeal Pounder and Laura Ellen Anderson (illustrator)
WitchWarsCoverFINALWhen Fran the Fabulous Fairy turns up in Tiga Whicabim’s shed to tell her she’s a witch, Tiga doesn’t believe her. Or at least not until Fran points out that TIGA WHICABIM is actually an anagram of I AM A BIG WITCH and magics her away down the drainpipes to compete in Witch Wars – the competition to crown the next Top Witch of Ritzy City.
Filled with silly spells, delectable dresses, ridiculous riddles and a serious shoe problem, Witch Wars is a witch story like no other. Although if you enjoyed The Worst Witch or Witchworld, you’ll love this too

Move aside Hermione Granger! Tiga’s in town…

I was pleasantly surprised by Witch Wars. Despite its menacing title, this was a cheery, funny and light hearted book.

Life as she knows it, is literally going down the drain for Tiga, when out of the blue… well purple fairy dust an extravagant fairy named Fran (or Fran the Fabulous Fairy as she would prefer to be known) appears out of nowhere, to reveal to Tiga a world of magic more commonly known as Ritzy City. Approximately one day before the start of Witch Wars Tiga arrives in an unreal land of good and bad where she picks up many a friend and has a shot at winning witch wars. With nine competitors, all wanting the coveted prize: to rule Ritzy City and beyond, the stakes were high.
With some evil, some good and some plain dumb contestants the competition was hotter than ever but who would win…

Witch Wars has been by far the best book I’ve read this year! Full of action, humour and epicness this book was awesome. The chapters are nice and short and are perfect for flicking in and out of.It is very fast paced and never leaves you bored. Consequently, some of the events aren’t explained as fully as I’d like.

Over all this is an amazing book and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes Harry Potter from 8+ (and feels like a good read.)

Verdict: I’m already looking forward to Witch Switch out later this year!

As a special treat Sibeal has kindly answered some of Izzy’s pressing questions.

Sibéal Pounder Head Shot credit Richard Grassie low res-1Sibéal Pounder currently works as a writer and researcher for the Financial Times’ How To Spend It section and has interviewed everyone from designer Vivienne Westwood to director Sam Taylor-Wood. She also tutors children who want to get into the media industry, helping them to develop articles and documentary shorts and teaching them how to put together magazines. Sibéal has a degree in History, a masters in Publishing and recently completed the Faber Academy’s Writing for Children course. Learn more about Sibeal on the Bloomsbury site here.

Where did your inspiration for Ritzy City come from?

I loved witches when I was little, Izzy! And also I had a bit of a weird obsession with sink pipes. I would say things like, ‘We just don’t know what’s down there!’, even though everyone assured me we definitely did.

I always worried it was something terrible, but after reading Alice in Wonderland when I was about eight, I realised it was almost definitely a world. And maybe it had witches in it. I imagined a bossy little fairy shooting out of the sink, pinching my nose and shouting ‘FINALLY! I knew you would figure it out EVENTUALLY.’

Over the years, Fran (as I later named her) stuck with me – all through school and until I was a wrinkly older human and I started writing snippets of it down, for fun, and began linking the witches to the pipes. Things like, witches hats are only pointy in our world because they’re sucked up the pipes – down in Sinkville they’re flat.

Do you base any of your characters around people you know?

I tend not to because if you base a character on someone (especially someone alive) and then you want the character to do something horrible, it makes it difficult to write it without thinking, Oh no, I hope the person won’t mind me writing this bit about them being DISGUSTING… But, I did name Peggy after my gran and Mrs Clutterbuck is based on a woman called Mrs Maypother, who owned the newsagents in Sandymount, Dublin (she gave me free chocolate, Izzy. She was the best). And Felicity Bat and the way she treats Peggy is based on when I was bullied at school. Luckily the girls who bullied me couldn’t levitate!

Would you say it’s hard to write a book about witchs after the bestseller Harry Potter?

Good question! Yes and no. Yes in terms of making it unique (see next question), but no in the sense that JK Rowling has done wonders for books! Kids love fantasy books more than ever now, and so many kids get into reading because of her. So really, if anything, it’s easier to write a book – even a book about witches – because of JK Rowling and Harry.

If so, do you think it’s hard to not pinch ideas from J.K Rowling?

It can be hard! If you create your own world, like Witch Wars’ Sinkville, it helps because you determine the terrain and can make it very different to somewhere like Hogwarts and Rowling’s amazing wizarding world.

Luckily, my witches are more flamboyant and mad and many of them are caricatures, so that means the content is a lot more of a farce and doesn’t have much crossover with Harry Potter in that sense.
Where I do put in similar references, I love to play around with the fact it’s a pinched idea and make that the joke. For example, a really common construct in kids stories is to have an other-world being meet the kid in the story and take them to a magical world – think of Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and Wendy, the rabbit and Alice in Alice in Wonderland, and Hagrid in Harry Potter. In the opening scene of Witch Wars, Fran (the Fabulous Fairy) meets Tiga and tells her she’s a witch, exactly like, “You’re a wizard Harry.” But in Tiga’s case, when she doesn’t believe her, Fran points out that when you jumble up the letters in Tiga’s name it spells I AM A BIG WITCH. She can’t argue with that. So it’s taking a familiar set-up and messing with it to make a joke.

There’s also some blatant pinching from Mary Poppins – like when Patricia the Producer comes sailing into the scene, flying with an umbrella and Fran says “She saw it in a film once and now it’s the only way she’ll travel.” And Patricia sings “SUPERCALAFRAGI-“ before crash landing. I try to always overtly reference stuff like that rather than being like, “so…this is my character Garry Rotter, he has a star on his head and a crow called Redfig. His nemesis is Mouldersnort…”

Review and interview questions by Izzy (11)

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Publication Date: March 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 127
Genre: Fantasy, Magic
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Izzy (11)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut Author
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