Book Review: Fleur Hitchcock – The Boy Who Flew

We are transported back to the days of the Industrial Revolution when new and glorious items were being invented. Athan likes helping Mr Chen, a Chinese inventor who lives nearby. They are building a flying machine. For Athan, who spends nights up on the rooftops of the city with his mate, Tod, this is a dream he wants to follow. But Mr Chen is killed by others wanting to steal his ideas and plans. When they discover Athan might know more, they start to attack his family. Will Athan ever fly?

A wonderful collection of characters including a great malevolent Grandma, Athan’s sister, Beatie who is handicapped and his weak mother, trying to keep her family together, while being dominated by Grandma and outside forces.

The descriptions of the city are great and the story literally flies along at a pace.

I have to say I had a lump in my throat at the end.

Book Review – Jasbinder Bilan – Asha and the Spirit Bird

Asha and her family live in the foothills of the Himalayas. Her father has gone to work in  the big city, to earn more money for his family. But nothing has been heard from him for months. No money has arrived and debt collectors are bullying Asha’s mother. Asha and her best friend Jeevan decide they have to do something and that involves finding her father. Armed with an address in the big city, they run away, to travel to the temple at the head of the Ganges, to pray for help and then on to the big city. It isn’t an easy journey, but they have help in the form of a lamagaia, a bearded vulture, which Asha believes is the spirit of her grandmother,  who has passed away.

Full of adventures including a close encounter with a snow tiger, this is a wonderful debut novel. The descriptions of the Himalayas, from the foothills to the temple at Karase, the noisy chaos of the big city, Zanapur, all come together beautifully.

Jasbinder Bilan is a graduate of the wonderful creative writing MA at Bath spa university.

I can remember her coming into the children’s library in Bath a few years ago and telling me she was starting a new adventure at Bath Spa University and going to take an MA in creative writing. Well that adventure has created Asha and Javeen and brought us the smells and colours of Asha’s mother’s cooking.

Book review: The Truth about Lies by Tracy Darnton

 

Price: £7.34
Was: £7.99

Jess Wilson remembers everything, absolutely everything. Known as Hyperthymesia it kicked in when she was 11 years old. Running away from a research programme at 17 Jess recreates herself at a boarding school on Dartmoor.

After the death of her roommate Hanna, cryptic postcards start to arrive in her room, which make her start to question what went on at the research programme and the death of her mother. It forces her to open files in her memory that she would prefer to keep closed. But searching through these files, can she tell the truth from the lies.

A great debut novel from Tracy Darnton, a graduate from the Bath Spa University creative writing for young people.

 

Book review – Chris Priestley – Maudlin Towers Curse of the Werewolf Boy

Mildew and Sponge attend Maudlin Towers School for the Not Particularly Bright Sons of the Not Especially Wealthy. They hate school and thd horrible teachers and are desperate for some excitement. This comes in the form of the Missing School Spoon and the threat of Christmas being cancelled. The boys become detectives and also uncover ghosts, time travel and other adventures.

Illustrated with Chris Priestley’s own line drawings, Maudlin Towers is a great tale for 8 years plus and the first in a series.

Please note that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.

Book review – Cecile Aubry – Belle and Sebastien, Child of the Mountains

A new adaptation of an old favourite,  Belle and Sebastien has been translated from the French by Gregory Norminton and given stylish line drawings by Helen Stephens . Originally written in 1965 and adapted for television, this is a classic tale of friendship.

An orphaned boy, bullied in the village below where he lives with his adopted family, and Belle,  a beautiful white Pyrenean Mountain dog, born on the same day. When Belle and Sebastien meet they form a loyal and lifelong friendship and have many adventures in the mountains.  But the villagers are not happy. Gossip surrounds Belle and she is reported to be a wild beast living in the mountains and there are orders to shoot her on sight. Can Sebastien protect his best friend or will it be the other way round?

Well done to Alba Books for reissuing this title and providing the glossary at the end.

Please note that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.