This is a beautiful book for snuggling up with on a wintery day. A wonderful celebration of the power of imagination and storytelling, There May be a Castle by Piers Torday is warm and funny and has the feel of an old friend and a future classic.
‘Eleven-year-old Mouse is travelling to see his grandparents on Christmas Eve with his mother and two sisters. But it’s snowing, and visibility is bad, and the car goes off the road, and crashes. Mouse is thrown from the car. When he wakes, he’s not in his world any more. He meets a sheep named Bar, who can only say Baaa, and a sarcastic horse named Nonky, who is a surprising mix of his beloved toy horse and his older sister.
So begins a quest to find a castle in a world of wonder – a world of monsters, minstrels, dangerous knights and mysterious wizards; a world of terrifying danger but also more excitement than Mouse has ever known. But why are they looking for a castle? As the cold grows, we realise it might just have something to do with the family he’s left behind; and that Mouse’s quest is more important than ever.’
I particularly enjoyed the mix of humour and nods to the crazy political world we live in where education has become all about endless testing and form-filling. I also want to raise a glass to the design – it’s just beautiful. Bravo to Rob Biddulph and Nicola Theobald.
One word of warning; there is a small section near the beginning of the book that mentions the non-existence of a certain festive someone. Possibly not the best book to give to a newly-doubting child. But, saying that, probably a helpful book for those newly-knowing.
This is a book I will pull out again and again at this time of year and I fully expect it to become a firm favourite in many homes.
Source – kindly sent for review by the publisher, Quercus Children’s Books
Some books are important and teach you about the world and your place in it. Some books are beautiful and inspirational and leave you a changed person. This book is both. It will open your eyes, it will open your mind, and it will open your heart. This is a VERY powerful book.
Subhi is a refugee. Born in an immigration detention centre after his mother fled the violence of a distant homeland, life behind the fences is all he has ever known. But the world of his imagination is far bigger than that. The night sea brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. The most vivid story of all is in the form of Jimmie, a scruffy, impatient girl who appears one night from the other side of the wires. Subhi and Jimmie might both find a way to freedom, as their tales unfold – but not until each of them has been braver than ever before.
This is a story about hope. It is about looking forward and standing strong for what you believe in. It is the power of storytelling and the importance of friendship. It sings when it could be crying. This is a book of truth, a book that doesn’t hide from the hardships and cruelties facing refugees but chooses to celebrate creativity and love and the strength of human kindness. Zana Fraillon has balanced it beautifully.
This is a book that shows you a world that needs changing and gives you the hope and strength to change it.
Orion Children’s Books are working in partnership with Book Aid International, and for every copy of The Bone Sparrow bought, they will donate a book to a refugee camp library.
You can get your copy here.
Source – kindly sent for review by the publisher.
Oh this book! This book, this book. I almost want to leave the review there. Because how to tell you about this book?
The Beginning Woods by Malcolm McNeill (Pushkin Children’s Books)
The Vanishings started without warning. People disappearing into thin air – just piles of clothes left behind. Each day, thousands gone without a trace. Max was abandoned in a bookshop and grows up haunted by memories of his parents. Only he can solve the mystery of the Vanishings. To find the answers, Max must leave this world and enter the Beginning Woods.
This is a book that is deep and rich and layered. It explores that messy grey area where science and imagination collide and overlap. It looks at what it means to be human, what it means to live. The power of creativity and storytelling is here. The divisive fear of Other is here. It is a book that is far bigger than it appears to be, with whisperings of the past and the feel of an instant classic. It is beautiful. I wanted to both devour it and savour each word.
Did I mention it is Malcolm McNeill’s debut?
Zoe at Playingbythebook has written a wonderful interview with him here.
You can grab your copy of The Beginning Woods here.
Source – purchased copy.