Review | S.C.A.R.S. by Julia Ibbotson

An enjoyable quest for younger readers. 4/5 stars.

SCARS by Julia Ibbotson book cover

Thank you to Julia Ibbotson for asking me if I’d like to review S.C.A.R.S. and sending me a copy.

The blurb: Gavin is an ordinary boy with problems like everyone else, when he finds himself in an extraordinary situation and facing the fight of his life. People are calling him Gawain and sending him on a medieval quest. How has he found himself on a horse when he has never ridden one before? How come he has a sword in his hand and terrifying creatures bearing down upon him? He seems to have slipped through into another universe. But can he win the battle of Good against Evil, and can he save the land of Unor  ̶  and more importantly, can he save himself?

As ever, clicking on the cover image will take you to the book’s Goodreads page.

My take:

I studied Old English in my first year of university. You may think I mean Chaucer, but he wrote in Middle English, a language which resembles the language we use today. Old English, a.k.a. Anglo Saxon, looks like a cross between German and Norwegian. We had to translate large chunks of OE texts, which wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had. However, while the language itself may have been the bane of my life, the stories were fantastic. Stories like Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Stories full of warriors, kings, treasure, quests, monsters, and grand themes like kinship, virtue and honour. And it’s these brilliant stories which are the inspiration for S.C.A.R.S.
Continue reading…

WWW Wednesday 30th March 2016

IMG_1384-0

This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Wait! There’s more. Click to find out what I’ve been reading!

WWW Wednesday 23rd March 2016

IMG_1384-0

This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Wait! There’s more. Click to find out what I’ve been reading!

Review | Oy Yew by Ana Salote

An intriguing and original children’s story. 4/5 stars.

Oy Yew by Ana Salote book cover

The blurb: ‘Lay low and grow’ is the motto of the waifs of Duldred Hall. The only way to escape their life of drudgery is to reach the magical height of 5 thighs 10 oggits, yet Master Jeopardine is determined to feed them little and keep them small. When the Master’s methods grow more sinister the waifs must face their doubts. What is kept in the Bone Room? Why is Rook’s Parlour locked? A new waif arrives and the fight for survival begins. But this child brings another mystery. Who is Oy?

Oy Yew was longlisted for the Times/Chicken House prize.

As ever, clicking on the cover image will take you to the book’s Goodreads page.

My take:

Ana Salote contacted me to ask if I would read and review her middle grade children’s book, Oy Yew. Intrigued by the blurb, I jumped at the chance. Thank you, Ana!

Obviously now I’m in the tricky position of having to describe this book, which is a difficult task because it’s a quirky and original tale. Without going into too much depth, the world of Oy Yew is one where child slave labour is the norm. The waifs – who are a different race to their masters – are kept in servitude until they grow to reach a certain height, at which point they should be set free. Unwilling to lose his workforce, their master does everything he can to stunt their growth and therein lies the crux of this story of survival and struggle.

Continue reading…

WWW Wednesday 16th March 2016

IMG_1384-0

This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Wait! There’s more. Click to find out what I’ve been reading!

Review | Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford

A light-hearted story with some serious messages. Ideal for children and adults to share. 4/5 stars.

Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford book cover

The blurb: “My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty nine and again four years later when he was twelve.

The first time had nothing to do with me. The second time definitely did, but I would never even have been there if it hadn’t been for his ‘time machine’…”

When Al Chaudhury discovers his late dad’s time machine, he finds that going back to the 1980s requires daring and imagination. It also requires lies, theft, burglary, and setting his school on fire. All without losing his pet hamster, Alan Shearer…

As ever, clicking on the cover image will take you to the book’s Goodreads page.

My take:

First, to deal with your questions:

  1. No, I didn’t make that title up.
  2. Yes, this is a real book.
  3. And yes, it does indeed feature time travelling with a hamster. That’s not some sort of metaphor.

Many kids movies, particularly animated films, include jokes and references to appeal to parents and carers. These jokes usually sail over the heads of young viewers but keep the adults chuckling. In this way, while the film has a core children’s audience, there’s something in it for adults too.

I thought about this a few times while reading Time Travelling with a Hamster. I have no problem reading books which are written for children. I’ve always thought that a good book is a good book and can be enjoyed by a reader no matter how old they are. That said, in the case of Time Travelling with a Hamster, I’d say the book’s core audience is definitely 8-12 year olds. Al, the main character and first person narrator, is twelve, and overall I felt the book read a little “young” for adults. However, the plot revolves around child-parent and child-grandparent relationships meaning that there is also a great deal for adult readers to appreciate and enjoy. Also, the action in the past takes place in 1984 with lots of little details which made me – a child of the 80s – laugh. I’m not sure many ten year olds would appreciate these period references.

Continue reading…