Sunday Snapshot on a Monday

Oops – Sunday has been and gone without me posting.  That’s what happens when you’ve been out having a nice time.  Sorry if you missed me.

Four book coversIt’s been another busy reading week.  In the car I’ve listened to Flood and Fang, the first book in The Raven series by Marcus Sedgwick.  It is superbly performed by Martin Jarvis and made a journey both ways around the M25 more than bearable.  I’m all set to start listening to the second in the series (narrated by our hero – Edgar the Raven) and have the third in hard copy waiting to be read.

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond is a strange, wild, beautifully written book about being young and full of life; about love and music and death.  Set in the North East of England it uses the language and the landscape to illustrate a version of the Orpheus story.  It’s one of those stories that makes you sit and think about it after you’ve finished.

There aren’t very many books for teenagers that cover transgender issues.  The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson introduces the reader to David Piper, a boy who, for as long as he can remember, has wanted to be a girl – a girl who likes boys.  His parents think he is gay.  People at school think he’s a freak.  Only his two best friends know the truth.  It is a touching story with some unexpected twists although, at times, these feel a little too convenient.  When I picked it up I was expecting to read a book set in the USA, so it was very pleasing to find it set in the UK.

The fourth book in this picture, Trouble by Non Pratt, was our SCBWI book group read for this month.  It is well written and a very believable story, but it made me very sad.  I know there are 15-year-old children who use sex to define their position in the social structure.  Reading about it was uncomfortable and depressing.  The story, however, was very strong and handled the two main story lines in a sensitive and realistic manner.

Three book coversFor work I have been reading more books to include in the When a Book Might Help (WABMH) segment of the Hampshire Libraries blog.  Football Academy: Reading the Game by Tom Palmer is about a boy juggling the demands of school and football whilst struggling to read.  His inability to read creates more and more problems, until eventually he realises he needs to ask for, and accept, help to improve the situation.  This will go onto the Dyslexia book list.

We will be including a section in WABMH simply called Medical Conditions.  This will include stories about conditions which are seldom seen in children’s books.  Pea’s Book of Holidays by Susie Day will be going on this list as one of the characters has condition called Hemiplegia.  The story is not about a disabled boy, however, but about a girl trying to support all her family.  It is fun and funny and part of a series about Pea and her sisters.

The last book this week is an Early Reader written by Jacqueline Wilson and illustrated by Stephen Lewis.  Monster Eyeballs shows how Kate deals with the class bully, Mark.  The clue is in the title of the story, but I won’t spoil the fun for you.

What’s the collective noun for a load of Sunday Snapshots?

It’s been a few weeks since my last Sunday Snapshot.  I’ve had quite a few things happening, some of which you may be aware of through my re-blogging other people’s posts.  Some others I might write about later on.  I don’t want you to think I haven’t been reading, however. You only have to look at these photographs to know that isn’t the case.  I promise I’m not going to discuss all the books at length, I’ll just make comments on a few personal favourites.

Three book coversThe writer Mal Peet died recently.  Twitter was full of praise for his writing.  I looked at his page on Fantastic Fiction, my go-to place for finding out about writers and their books, and confirmed I hadn’t read anything he had written.  Life: an Exploded Diagram is a coming of age story set primarily in Norfolk against the background of the cold war.  I found the social and agricultural history fascinating, particularly as the protagonists were only a few years older than me.

I’ve loved Berlie Doherty ever since I read Paddiwak and Cosy, a delightful picture book about introducing a new cat into a household.  Her novel The Company of Ghosts is a brilliantly atmospheric ghost story.  A young girl finds herself abandoned on a remote island, cut off from everyone and everything she knows.

Four Book CoversI really enjoy Maggie Stiefvater’s writing.  The Wolves of Mercy Falls series told stories about werewolves who felt like real people and The Raven Cycle is equally gripping.  Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the third book in the series.  Foolishly, I had expected it would be a trilogy as these things so often are.  I got to the end of the book and looked up, gasping “There’s going to be a fourth book!” much to the bemusement of my family.  The Raven King is due out in 2016.

If you enjoyed the Disney film One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing, you may well enjoy How Kirsty Jenkins Stole the Elephant.  Just before he dies, Kirsty’s grandfather asks her to take care of his allotment and she promises that she will.  Unfortunately that means nothing to the man from the council.  Kirsty and her half-siblings try a number of ways to convince Mr Thomas that he should follow granddad’s dying wish.  Can you guess what their final plan involves?  It is truly ingenious.

Nine picture book coversAs I’ve mentioned before, I am curating a series of book lists for Hampshire County Council with the umbrella title When a Book Might Help.  The idea is to provide some suggested book titles that might be of comfort and support to families dealing with difficult situations.  As a result I get to read lots of picture books and early readers.  There were some lovely picture books in this collection.  My favourite was Slug Needs a Hug, a delightful story about a little slug who thinks his mum doesn’t hug him because of the way he looks.  He listens to a host of different creatures who all suggest ways he might improve his appearance and he tries to follow their advice – all at the same time.  His mum tells him how much she loves him and wants to hug him.  Unfortunately she can’t because they don’t have arms, so they kiss instead.  This will shortly be added to the ‘Body Confidence’ book list.

6 book coversI look forward to every new book from Harlan Coben.  He writes gripping stories with clever twists and engaging characters.  The Stranger didn’t disappoint and I really hadn’t expected it to end the way it did.

Please don’t think I haven’t enjoyed, or at least found something of merit, in all the books I’ve read over the last few weeks.  I just didn’t want to bury you in an avalanche of reviews.  I’ll try to be back on track next week and just have a handful of books to how you.