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All reviews tagged with Andersen Press

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A Bridge to the Stars

First published in 1990 and just translated from Swedish into english by Laurie Thompson, this is a striking and beautifully written story evoking the cold of a Scandinavian winter and the time between the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence. Joel dreams of far away, Southern places, inspired by his father’s stories of…

A Tale Dark and Grimm

At the back of this book, the author tells us that it all began with a reading of the Grimm Brothers’ ‘The Seven Ravens’ (or ‘The Seven Swallows’, whichever you prefer) to a group of second-grade schoolchildren. Gidwitz was the teacher, but he wasn’t the one reading the story. Unlike so many versions of the…

Aesop’s Fables

Fiona Waters (retold) Fulvio Testa   A fable is a short story with a moral, and what better fables are there than Aesop’s. Aesop’s Fables have been around in one form or another since 320BC, and loved by readers of all ages. Children, in particular, love them. It could be said that the fables are…

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)

Humpty Dumpty is a name known worldwide – in France he is Boule Boule, in Norway Lille Trille and in Germany he goes under the guise of Humpelken-Pumpelken. (I wish I was making this up.) But every country, even if they can’t agree on his name, agrees on one thing – Humpty could not be…

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse

Nobody likes Alexander the mouse. When people catch sight of him they shriek with disgust, chase him with brooms and try to capture him with mousetraps. All poor little Alexander wants is a few crumbs to eat. One day Alexander meets Willy, a smug little clockwork mouse who is loved and cuddled every single night…

Are We There Yet?

A young boy is off to Grandma’s birthday party. Soon, he asks the inevitable question, ‘Are we there, yet?’ Judging from his parents’ faces, this isn’t the first time he’s asked. Simple car journeys can take forever. Watching out the window and playing with toys can only occupy a child for so long, and the…

Aunt Severe and the Toy Thieves

This follow-up to Aunt Severe and the Dragons sees young Daniel go to stay with his great-aunt Emily, while his explorer parents are off on a book tour. Daniel is dismayed to discover that Emily’s fiancé, the Colonel, has disappeared, so she has gone from happy and giggling to extremely grumpy, becoming the eponymous Aunt Severe once…

Belinda Brown

This is classic McKee – flat, two-dimensional, child-like artwork that conceals his genius. There is a rhyming text that avoids (narrowly) being contrived. As well as the rhyming, we have alliteration as in ‘Brother Bryan gobbled burgers, biscuits and bakes, bangers, buns, brioche and for breakfast? Bran flakes.’ Belinda Brown loves bananas; she eats nothing…

Bloodsong

Gay sex, masturbation and teenage pregnancy sit alongside betrayal, warfare and infanticide in this aptly named gore fest from master of controversy, Melvin Burgess. Inspired by the Volsunga Saga, Burgess utilises the story of Sigurd, his battle with the dragon and his doomed love for Brynhild: transplanting the characters and themes into a dystopian vision…

Boa’s Bad Birthday

Every child has cried when they didn't get the present that they wanted, and every child has had to buy a present for a friend and wanted to buy them what THEY wanted instead of what their friend would want. This picture book is thus a really good story for illustrating the importance of putting…

Bobby Charlton and the Mountain

The plot revolves around the necessity to raise funds for a new football kit for Bobby in time for the queen’s visit to his school. Thanks to a resourceful sister, the kit arrives, but not in the way they anticipated. The story is readable for those at a ‘first chapter book’ level. It has an…

Catherine Certitude

Catherine Certitude, a dance teacher in New York, recalls growing up in Paris with her gentle, daydreaming father, Georges, after her American mother returns home. She remembers the restaurant lunches, her mother’s letters, her father’s business partner, Casterade, and not quite understanding what it is her father does. But most of all, Catherine remembers her…

Chessboxer

Genius and child prodigy Leah Baker is one victory from chess Grandmaster, as the pieces of her family life align for catastrophic loss. Leah finds that she has everything but no one to play for. Chess has been her whole life – what could she choose if she no longer chose chess? Initially written as…

Comic Adventures of Boots

This is a collection of three stories, each told in comic strip form. ‘Operation Fish Biscuit’ recounts Boots the cat’s scheme to acquire sunbathing space on an overcrowded wall. This backfires quite spectacularly. In ‘Pleased to meet you Madam Quark’, Madam Quark the swan, teaches Boots to swim. This speaks volumes for the cat’s charm,…

Denver

McKee’s latest picturebook tells us all about Denver, who is ‘very, very rich’. ‘To the manor born’, Denver lives a life of prestige, power and privilege. He employs local villagers in a variety of areas: gardener, cook, cleaner, chauffer. He is a benefactor of the school, and contributes to the village community life – even…

Doglands

Tim Willocks’s first fantasy novel, Doglands, won the 2012 Montreal Book Festival prize for YA fiction. Written from the first-person perspective of Furgul, a lurcher whose mother is a greyhound, Doglands tells the story of Furgul’s quest for freedom after the brutal breeder Dedbone discovers that he is not a purebred. After escaping Dedbone’s savage attempt to kill…

Doing It

Somebody described this book to me as ‘shag, shag, shag’. Actually, there is far more snogging than shagging, and there is much more talk about shagging than there is actually ‘doing it’. Moreover, there is almost as much blushing as there is snogging, and far more anxiety, frustration, sexual failure and emotional insecurity than there…

Don’t Spill the Milk!

It is rainy season in the tiny village in Africa where Penda lives with her family, and therefore her father is spending time in the grasslands looking after their sheep. When Penda manages to convince her mother that she is old enough to take him some milk, she takes readers on a journey across the…

Drat that Cat!

Suzy Cat tests her family’s patience. She’s not cuddly like her close relative, Judith Kerr’s Mog: she’s scrawny, untidy and annoying, she piddles in Dad’s golf bag and she bites Granddad on the ankle. But when she stops eating, the family are distraught. She might even die! I am reminded here of Tony Ross’ earlier…

Endling: The Last

Byx’s life has gone in an unexpected direction. His family has just been murdered, he is left to wander in a strange land with even stranger company and he is about to be caught up in the nefarious politics of humans. Katherine Applegate’s Endling is the first book in a fantasy series set in a…

Flotsam

A picturebook about pictures, David Wiesner’s Flotsam  took seven years to make and was the third Caldecott Medal winner for Wiesner, one of the most creative and original illustrators of the twenty-first century. Wiesner’s imaginative and technical brilliance come together here, as in many of his other works, to create art from a gallimaufry of objects and…

Fluff the Farting Fish

Elvie dreamed about a puppy, a real and fluffy puppy, to whom she could teach to bark or sit. So she is a bit disappointed when Mom brings home a pet fish. But not for long… Elvie calls him Fluff and starts to train him. To be honest, the fish isn’t great at barking, and…

Fly Away Home

Almost thirty years after its first translation from German into English, Christine Nostlinger’s novel remains one of the freshest of children’s war stories. This is largely because of the good humour, individuality and independence of its narrator heroine, 8-year-old Christel Goth, who, with her family, has taken refuge from their native Vienna in a country…

Grk and the Pelotti Gang

The trouble with this book is that it promises so much in the first few chapters and delivers so little. For most of the book, Tim, the hero of our story, does very little that is actually heroic or clever. Indeed he is at times exceptionally dim – what self-respecting action hero wanders off in…

Hercufleas

Each month, on the night of the new moon, the hideous and very hungry monster Yuk comes to Tumber to guzzle. Many of the strongest, best-known heroes have tried and failed before to save the little town. Now, young Greta travels to Avalon to bring back the one champion who can do the job… a…

Hippospotamus

The author / illustrator pairing of Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross are responsible for dozens of great books for young children, including the hilarious 'Dr. Xargle's' series – and Hippospotamus continues the winning combination. It begins… 'Hippopotamus had a spotamus…on her bottomus' and continues with poor Potamus seeking advice from all her animal friends as to how…

I Dare You

Two bored gorillas are playing a game of dares. As the game progresses, the gorillas dare each other to eat bigger and more outrageous items, including bugs, birds, rock and trees, until they reach the ultimate, icky dénouement. Then the game starts over again. Reminiscent of the old nursery rhyme about the old lady who…

I Want a Boyfriend

Once again, Tony Ross delivers the stroppy antics of the well-loved Little Princess character with hilarious consequences. When Her Royal Highness spies her maid courting a General, the Royal Court is forced into appointing an honorary boyfriend – only for the princess to find out that boyfriends aren’t as fun as she thinks.  With plenty…

I Yam a Donkey!

If you are going to receive lessons on grammar, it should always be from a knowledgeable vegetable. Donkey hasn’t quite mastered his pronunciation and when an educated yam overhears him say ‘I yam a donkey!’, a heated and hysterical discussion begins on the verb ‘to be.’ Donkey takes a very literal approach to everything Yam…

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles

The perfect book for the young scientist in your life, this tells the story of the brave and bold Joan Procter, a pioneering female scientist who was the ‘reptile-whisperer’ of her time – a friend to lizards and crocodiles from a young age. The book takes us back to her early years, growing up with…

Last Seen Wearing Trainers

Secrets and lies in teenage Katie’s family make her life a misery, drive her father to suicide and her mother to drink. With no one to turn to for help, Katie becomes vulnerable and, without thinking too much about what she is doing, forms an alliance with a complete stranger, a 19-year-old boy who occasionally…

Life Is Magic

The famous magician, Monsieur Lapin, is holding auditions for the role of a new assistant without any luck, until Houdini the rabbit comes along. He turns out to be the perfect choice; he loves magic, looks after everyone, and ensures the show runs smoothly. One night, things go wrong, however. Yet Houdini is not daunted…

Little Liar

This is an intense and gripping novel that seems to take its cue from the recent ‘domestic noir trend’ in adult fiction. Like many contemporary novels in that genre, Little Liar features a manipulative and morally ambiguous female protagonist who is by her own admission an unreliable narrator and who spends the novel scheming to…

Lost for Words

Young Dallas Kelly has a lot to deal with. She is still reeling with grief from her mother’s death when she learns that her local library is closing down. The 11-year-old decides she is not going to take another loss, so she leads a campaign to keep Queen Street Library open.  Our reluctant hero does…

Love my Enemy

This novel set in contemporary post- Good Friday Agreement Belfast. Although military hostilities have ended, sectarian hatred has not. Typical young adult concerns about alcohol, sex, exams, money and work are given an added sharpness, pain and cruelty because of this. youthful sexual activity is depicted in a harsh, explicit, realistic and decidedly unromantic way,…

Luna Loves Library Day

It is wonderful when everything works together in a picturebook – theme, text, illustrations, cover, endpapers – when the whole art object is more than the sum of its parts. Luna Loves Library Day, the début by performance poet Joseph Coelho, illustrated by talented newcomer Fiona Lumbers, is such a picturebook. Luna loves reading books…

Manky Monkey

The partnership of Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross has done much to dispel the idea that picturebooks are only for the youngest children, and this title is another that will appeal to children up to 9 or 10. Ross’s bright and amusing illustrations perfectly complement the rhyming text and also make its meaning more explicit.…

Mark Two

This is a very odd but rather amusing little tale about Gary Whitaker and his best mate Mark Burgess as they enter the difficult teenage years. Mark is examining his spots in the mirror when he sees the reflection of his doppelgänger. Mark Two is a perfect version of Mark One – he sings in…

Movers

Patrick is a Mover, a person with the power to ‘Move’, or pull people from the future to the present. Unfortunately, due to the sudden influx of people from the future using our resources, Moving is banned and all Movers are closely monitored, under threat of permanent sleep. Naturally one day, as it must in…

Mud

Lydia is nearly 13 and, as far as she is concerned, her father’s decision to sell the large family home two years after her mother’s death and move his three children into a leaky Thames sailing barge in Essex, will totally ruin her life. Add to the mix three soon-to-be step-siblings, a new step-Mum and…

Next

The themes of sex and death are popular and common topics addressed in young adult literature. Following on from the success of Losing It (2010), Keith Gray tackles the other challenging and fundamental subject in his latest thought-provoking anothology of short stories. This time he asks his team of authors: is there life after death? If so,…

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a girl who lives in a grey-brown wasteland full of junk, a fantasy estuary (that reminds me of the east coast of England), with her eccentric Uncle nicodemus and Cousin nesbit. The characters and setting seem timeless victoriana with the story centring on the boring food. In fact we are into it from…

Other Girl

Louise and Erica are best friends who share everything with one another. They have been joined at the hip since they first met. There are just two minor differences between them. Erica has the extraordinary ability to fly and conjure up flames with her hands. Louise has the ordinary ability to sew and do well…

Quack, Quack

A simple story of feuding neighbours and the merits of friendship and compromise. A new neighbour, Mrs Spikes, moves in next door to Vicki. She seems very nice and is soon chatting over the hedge with Vicki’s mum and dad and giving glasses of red cordial to Vicki and her brother. However, when Mrs Spikes…

Read the Book, Lemmings!

It’s a popular misconception that lemmings, while migrating, are prone to throwing themselves en masse off cliffs. Even lemmings believe this themselves, but, as this book shows, they can be quite a suggestible bunch of furry, cuddly creatures. Aboard the good ship S.S. Cliff, a cargo ship in the shape of a whale, First Mate…

River of Secrets

In this over-ambitious novel, Fran, a young adolescent who is reluctant to leave the security of childhood, is mourning the death in suspicious circumstances of her grandmother and attempting to adjust to her mother’s recent remarriage and the consequent acquisition of a stepbrother, Jez. The tensions that ensue and the growing affection that replace them…

Room for One More

When Beaver builds his boat, ‘Just like that’, his friend are not impressed, complaining that it is too small for all of them. As he paddles off by himself he begins to wonder. Beaver returns some time later with a bigger boat, but his friends have disappeared. He floats down the river collecting them one…

Ruggles

Ruggles is the Houdini of the canine world. He brings us on an adventure-packed, seasonal journey into that exciting world that is beyond his garden – meeting many people who greet him with affection. Anne Fine’s clever use of speech and first names leaves us in no doubt that they have met Ruggles many times…

Spaghetti for Suzy

As the adult reader might guess, Spaghetti for Suzy is a food-fad story. This square format paperback features large, brightly coloured and particularly attractive illustrations. Each page is a feast of colour for the eyes, with magenta, ochre, scarlet, turquoise. On one page three tulips each have a different shade of ‘red’. Just one or…

Swarm of Bees

Oh no – it’s a swarm of bees and they are so angry!  Snicket explores the nature of anger and how it is manifested. We don’t know why the bees are angry, but as they swarm through the story we see where their anger could be channelled. Perhaps the sailor or his mother or the…

Swimmy

Swimmy is the story of a unique little fish that finds himself alone in the world after his family is eaten by a big bad tuna. Left to wonder and discover the world, Swimmy shows us the beauties of the deep sea and when faced with adversity again, he proves to be quite the creative…

The Bad Mood and the Stick

Curley is a little girl who has been dogged by a bad mood for hours, since her mother passed an ice cream shop without buying her a cone. When Curley finds a stick, she pokes her brother with it, cheers up, and the bad mood transfers to her mum. Thus the bad mood, in the…

The Brave Beast

Following the success of The Lonely Beast in 2011, it surely wasn’t going to be long before that hairy black monster reappeared. In his latest escapade, the Beast goes to an island to investigate 'a scary noise' which has been frightening the islanders. Like the first book, the story essentially takes the form of a journey. Young…

The Dogs of Winter

Life on the streets of Moscow is hard, and when five-year-old Mishka is abandoned he joins a group of homeless children in the hope of survival. But the leader of this rag-tag group is tough, and Mishka must learn to beg, and perhaps even to steal. When the harsh winters come, he finds out who…

The Factory Made Boy

Mrs Bartolotti’s life is just fine the way it is. She lives by herself, does what she likes, eats what she likes and wears what she likes. Then one day, all of that changes when a package arrives at her door containing one factory-made boy, Conrad. He’s perfect in every way. But just as they…

The Firing

After two years living in the sleepy little village of Whin, Anna still feels like an outsider. She longs to return to the hustle and bustle of Manchester, which she and her mother abandoned along with her father. Two years have not made her any more reconciled to Brian, her mother’s Irish boyfriend, or his…

The Great Explorer

Chris Judge, author/illustrator of The Lonely Beast, is back with this second offering in his distinctive and instantly recognisable style. Tom has his fair share of mishaps and encounters, more than one Arctic beastie on his journey, before saving the day and reuniting with his proud father.  This is a fun, colourful book in which…

The Invisible Boy

Gary Gardner is a pathetic young boy when we first meet him. His father has just left his wife, taking Gary with him. Nobody asks Gary for his opinion, nobody cares. Gary becomes even more miserable when one misfortune follows another in his new life. He is now a latchkey child, neglected by his father…

The King Who Wouldn’t Sleep

Beds, going to bed and going to sleep fascinate very young children and Singleton and Swain's picturebook  really plays on this obsession. Before the reader even begins the story the endpapers entice him or her into the tale with pictures of all sorts of different kinds of beds. The King of the story has a…

The Lonely Beast

It is tempting to read the debut children’s book by Irish illustrator Chris Judge as a response to the modern technological trappings of easy friendship; its Facebook-like opening map, the lack of impinging computer hardware would instantly resolve the book’s premise in two panels. Fortunately The Lonely Beast is instead a simple, playful visual narrative…

The Lost Witch

This extraordinary book captivates from the get-go with a strange, heart-stopping opening chapter involving a car ride in torrential rain and a quad bike hunt for hares. One of these hares appears to speak, while another has only one eye, in which can be glimpsed ‘worlds upon worlds within worlds’. These eerie happenings presage Bea…

The Prince and the Porker

Bently's picturebook is a raucous tale about an opportunistic pig named Pignatius. The title, which is a 'send up' of the The Prince and the Pauper, should be a good indication of the storyline, but also of the general humour. Pignatius is driven by the constant yearn of his stomach. 'Pignatius was passing the Palace…

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

Fitting in at a new school and trying to make friends is always a challenge, especially for someone like Henry whose main interests include trivia and professional wrestling. However, fitting in is the least of his troubles, as he tries to hold his family together after a traumatic incident he initially only refers to as…

The Snow Beast

Every year the villagers who live at the bottom of the Beast’s mountain celebrate the first day of snow by organising a special snow festival. But this year there’s a problem – their tools are missing. This latest book in Chris Judge’s Beast series tells how the Beast retrieves the tools and makes a new…

The Tickle Ghost

The result of a collaboration between David McKee (Not Now Bernard, Elmer, etc.) and his son Brett, The Tickle Ghost has typical McKee artwork with its hallmark vibrant, strong colours and the flat, almost two-dimensional illustrations that are so appealing to small children. The book opens with Brett’s Tickle Ghost hinting at what is to…

Things a Bright Girl Can Do

Sally Nicholls has created an ambitious novel built around the Suffragette movement in London in 1914. From the opening lines, we are thrown straight into a street scene with a young Suffragette addressing a crowd; her words pique the interest of seventeen-year-old Evelyn who is passing by with her young man, Teddy. Evelyn comes from…

Time Spinner

This is a good read. It is a book that starts off very slowly, but as it turns out, this slow pace is intentional. The initial forced ‘I continued to daydream’ as a means of creating two ‘realities’ for the main character jars a little, but it allows the reader slowly to enter a sometimes…

Too Close To Home

Minny has a lot of responsibility for a teenager. Her older sister Aisling is autistic and finds it difficult to make friends, so Minny needs to keep an eye on her and sort out issues that crop up at school. Then there’s her Bible-obsessed younger sister Selena, her baby brother Raymond (a surprise addition to…

Urgle

Urgle fits the current trend of dystopian fantasy novels, such as The Hunger Games series and the Chaos Walking trilogy. It adheres to the formula: a protected main character let loose in a world they do not fully comprehend, bizzare likenesses to our world, and quests for completion. Urgle, nicknamed “useless,” has to leave the safety…

Warduff and the corncob caper

This picture book is ideal for children who are learning to read, but still enjoy the power of illustration to enliven the story. The language is simplistic enough for learners to sound out most of the words, while the basic plot has universal appeal. The inhabitants of Corncob Farm are under threat from a very…

When You Reach Me

When You Reach Meby Rebecca Stead is one of the most impressive and engaging children’s books I’ve read in a long time. Winner of the Newbery Medal and several other prestigious literary awards, it’s set in Stead’s native New York and has at its heart a profound mystery. Eleven-year-old Miranda is a ‘latch-key child’ and…

Will Gallows & The Wolfer’s Deadly Magic

The young elfling, Will Gallows, made his first appearance in 2011’s Will Gallows and the Snake- Bellied Troll, and the series has continued with three further books of high octane adventure, the latest of which involves the return of a fearsome enemy (Imelda, the savage wolfer) intent on revenge, just as Will is about to…

Will Gallows and the Rock Demon’s Blood

Will Gallows, the young sky cowboy with elfling blood and a do-or-die attitude to righting wrongs, must face new and terrifying dangers as he once again sets out to save the citizens of the Great West Rock from an evil influence. With his best friend Jez newly signed up to join the Sky Cavalry, his chores…

Will Gallows and the Snake-Bellied Troll

Will Gallows has a mission: to find Noose Wormworx, the Snake-Bellied Troll who murdered his father, and he knows it is not going to be an easy task. After lying to his grandma about going on a fishing trip, Will sets out on his journey to Dead Rock. As each person he meets along the…

Will Gallows and the Thunder Dragon’s Roar

Fantasy collides with the western in the second volume of the Will Gallows series. The title character, half-human and half-elf, inhabits
a world of cowboys – albeit sky cowboys – and sheriffs, as well as Native American- inspired elves and mages. As tensions grow between cowboys and elves, Will uncovers
a sinister plot and things get worse when
his…

Wolfie the Bunny

The Bunny family have decided it’s time to expand their brood and to do so have adopted a son, a son who turns out to be a wolf! Their eldest daughter, Dot, remains steadfastly unconvinced by her new sibling, as she becomes increasingly concerned that her darling brother is almost certainly set on eating her…

Wonder Goal!

This story signals that it has a highly significant personal meaning by making the end papers a collection of the author’s sketches of football games from troubled parts of the world from 1970 to 1999. It begins with a Lowry-like depiction of the nameless hero’s first game with his team on a cold grey-green pitch…

You

You is the story of Josie, an 18-year-old determined to break with the past and to make new friends at college. But Alex, a dangerous ghost from her past, is hanging about and making her very nervous. Over the course of the year, as she learns to cope with the burden of past actions while…

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