Reviewer:

Alan Murphy

Book Cover - The Real Dada Mother Goose

The Real Dada Mother Goose

This ‘Treasury of Complete Nonsense’ is a homage to – or send-up of – Blanche Fisher Wright’s bestseller of 1916, The Real Mother Goose. It comprises six well-known nursery rhymes reimagined in a variety of surprising ways.

Book cover - Stick Boy and the Rise of the Robots

Stick Boy and the Rise of the Robots

This illustrated story ticks a lot of familiar boxes for fiction for young readers. Futuristic dystopia, check. The discovery of underground tunnels and rooms, check. Villain who is up to no good, check. Circle of friends who uncover the truth, check. But there is one anomaly. As the title suggests the central protagonist is a stick drawing in a world of regular people. Stick Boy goes to school in Little Town, and with his Mystery Mates, they solve mysteries together. This is the second instalment of his adventures, by writer and illustrator Paul Coomey.

Book Cover - After the Fire

After the Fire

After the Fire – another catastrophic, harrowing YA title – concerns the survivors of a Texan cult: Moonbeam, our seventeen-year-old narrator, and her mostly younger ‘family’ of eighteen. After the eponymous fire destroys their compound, they find themselves monitored by ‘the outsiders’ in a psychiatric facility.

Book Cover - Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep

Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep

Elsie Piddock is a poor young girl who likes skipping – in fact, she ‘skips as never so’. With the help of the fairies, who summon her at night while she sleeps, she perfects her gift. Soon her fame becomes such that for many years later tales are told of her skipping feats, until eventually they are assumed to be mere stories. But the tradition started by Elsie of skipping every new moon on Mount Caburn is one day threatened by a surly new Lord. Can a now aged Elsie reemerge from legend to help save the skipping grounds?

Book Cover - The Seed of Doubt

The Seed of Doubt

The Seed of Doubt concerns a boy who, although he enjoys life on his father’s farm, dreams of a world beyond. The seed of the title, dropped by a bird in flight and planted by the boy, quickly grows into a tree which provides both the obstacle to and the means by which he recovers his confidence.

Book Cover - The Lost Witch

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 our 13-year-old protagonist’s awakening as a rare summoning witch in a world that seems hell-bent on the destruction and/or exploitation of her kind.

Book Cover - All Rights Reserved

All Rights Reserved

The premise of this futuristic novel initially seems so bonkers that one is inclined to laugh in response. Not that there’s anything cheerful going on. Imagine a world in which free speech is, in a literal, monetary sense, prohibited, so that each word a person utters is subject to copyright that has to be paid for. Welcome to the nightmarish society of All Rights Reserved.

Book Cover - The Barber’s Dilemma And Other Stories From Manmaru Street

The Barber’s Dilemma And Other Stories From Manmaru Street

Sometimes it takes a foreign-language author or illustrator to redefine what a children’s book can be. The Barber’s Dilemma And Other Stories From Manmaru Street, written and illustrated by Japanese artist Koki Oguma, and here translated by Gita Wolf, is one of the strangest, funniest and most beautiful picturebooks I’ve come across. It comprises a series of vignettes, each accompanied by its own illustration, allegedly concerning characters from the artist-author’s neighbourhood in Tokyo.

Book Cover - Night of the Party

Night of the Party

For years young adult fiction has been predicting dark dystopian futures. Now that Britain is set to leave the EU – at the time of writing it’s unclear how, when or even if this will happen – it seems only natural that the genre should square up to the B word, with all its portents of doom and disaster. Welcome to the first post-Brexit YA novel [Editor’s note: the first in English].

Book Cover - How To Rob A Bank

How To Rob A Bank

Dylan is a 15-year-old with a problem; he appears to have burnt down his friend Beth’s house. He thinks (quite naturally) that he’s spoilt his chances with her and plans to rob a bank to reimburse her (as you do). The fire, however, proves to be merely the first incident in an accident-prone narrative that blunders from one calamity to another. Along the way our protagonist learns a thing or two about growing up and facing reality, and is somehow blessed with a positive outcome in the end.