Tashi: 25th Anniversary Edition by Anna Fienberg, Barbara Fienberg and Kim Gamble

Tashi 25Title: Tashi: 25th Anniversary Edition

Author: Anna Fienberg, Barbara Fienberg and Kim Gamble

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 16th June 2020

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 112

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: Tashi’s adventures have been loved by children all over the world for twenty-five years. This special edition of the original Tashi book celebrates Tashi’s anniversary, and includes a story about Tashi’s first birthday, ‘Tashi and the Silver Cup’, and ‘Kidnapped!’ from Tashi’s Storybook.

OVER ONE MILLION COPIES SOLD!

For twenty-five years Tashi has been telling fabulous stories. He escaped from a war lord in a faraway place and flew to this country on the back of a swan. And he wished he would find a friend just like Jack. In this first book of his daring adventures, Tashi tells Jack about the time he tricked the last dragon of all. Now, a whole generation of readers will know that when Tashi says, ‘Well, it was like this …’ an exciting new adventure is about to begin. This special anniversary edition includes the stories ‘Tashi and the Silver Cup’ and ‘Kidnapped!’ together for the first time.

‘The Tashi stories are some of my all-time favourites: a world within a world and a magical place for children to lose themselves in.’ Sally Rippin, bestselling author of Polly and Buster and Billie B. Brown

‘All children should meet Tashi. He can be their mentor on the road to reading, feeding their imaginations with fantastic stories. The Tashi stories have the evergreen qualities of classics.’ Magpies

‘I read my kids Tashi – it’s this story that they love.’ Angelina Jolie

~*~

Tashi is one of those series of books that children have loved since it the first book was published back in 1995 – and was one of those books that was always out at the library! And then it felt like it disappeared – or maybe it was just always sold out or borrowed when I checked. So this is the first time I’ve been able to read an entire Tashi book, written by Anna and her mother, Barbara, and delightfully illustrated by the late Kim Gamble, who died in 2016. I remember meeting Kim at school at an illustrator visit and buying his book You Can Draw Anything – which I still have, and he signed it. He was lovely and encouraging – and we all knew him as ‘the Tashi illustrator’, because Tashi was so big at our school!

AWW2020

Anna and Barbara’s story about Tashi, and his adventures with dragons and giants, stories he tells Jack, are as well-known as many of the older stories and classics of childhood. It has a quasi-fairy tale/fantasy feel to it. Jack and his parents live in the real world, but Tashi is from another world where giants and dragons live, and where he has used his wits and tricks to get out of tricky situations and get back to his family. Anna and Barbara have told a whimsical and magical adventure for younger children about being brave, about family, and about friendship. Their words weave a special kind of magic around the reader. Even as an adult, I could feel the magic and wonder of the words just as they would be for younger readers.

The words are accompanied by Kim Gamble’s delightfully playful black and white illustrations that tell as much of the story as the words do and give life to the characters beyond the page. This is a delightful book that will enchant all ages and is sure to become an Australian classic that will be visited and revisited for generations to come.

 

Shoestring: The Boy Who Walks on Air by Julie Hunt, Dale Newman

ShoestringTitle: Shoestring: The Boy Who Walks on Air
Author: Julie Hunt, Dale Newman
Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: 2nd June 2020
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 368
Price: $19.99
Synopsis: A gripping illustrated adventure about a travelling circus troupe, a future-telling macaw and a cursed pair of gloves that Shoestring must conquer once and for all. A companion to the award-winning KidGlovz.
‘Shoestring loved the sudden intake of breath when he stepped onto the rope. The upturned faces of the audience made him think of coins scattered at his feet, more coins than he had ever taken when he was a pickpocket.’

Twelve-year-old Shoestring is leaving behind his life of crime and starting a new career with the Troupe of Marvels. Their lead performer, he has an invisible tightrope and an act to die for. But trouble is brewing – the magical gloves that caused so much turmoil for KidGlovz are back.

When he’s wearing the gloves, the world is at Shoestring’s fingertips. It’s so easy to help himself to whatever he likes – even other people’s hopes and dreams. But when he steals his best friend’s mind, he’s at risk of losing all he values most.

A thrilling, heart-in-the-mouth adventure of ambition, friendship and the threads that bind from the award-winning creators of KidGlovz.

~*~

In a fantastical world, there is a young thief called Shoestring, who lives with the woman who raised him. Until now, he has been a thief for most of his twelve years. When the Troupe of Marvels finds out about his talent – walking on an invisible tightrope. Yet a troublesome pair of gloves that once caused mayhem are back, and taking control of Shoestring, making him steal unthinkable things – not just items, but pieces of people – the troupe sets out to help him and destroy the gloves, and get Shoestring back to the young boy they know.

With Shoestring able to take whatever he wants – even things that someone can’t see, trouble starts to brew as the gloves start to control Shoestring and convince him to do things he’d never think about doing. Things start to go wrong when he sets out to find Metropolis, May’s old parrot who has been kidnapped, and falls into the hands of Marm – this is where the mystery begins and where we find out more about what is behind the stories of Shoestring, Marm, May, Metropolis and the gloves begins and the action picks up as the narrative moves between Metropolis telling the story – these parts are in bold, whilst the rest of the story is told in prose, as a third person perspective tells the story. And evokes a sense of everyone telling their part of the story around the campfire.

AWW2020This technique is coupled with some illustrations with speech bubbles – the same style used in graphic novels, and all the illustrations by Dale Hunt make the world Shoestring and his troupe live in really come to life as you read. It is not one that can be dipped in and out of, nor read in one sitting. This is one of those books that must be savoured and enjoyed. It is one that needs to be savoured – that needs to be read over time, and where every page has a new clue as to what might happen but is also filled with twists and turns as Shoestring fights with the gloves and the control they have over him.

Magical, transient gloves that have a mind of their own is a worrying, curious and troublesome – what do these gloves want, and why are they targeting Shoestring and the troupe. It weaves the history of the characters and the world they inhabit throughout the narrative seamlessly, telling an evocative story of ambition and friendship, and the lengths people will go to so they can help those they care about. And how will they help Shoestring fix things? This is a story of loyalty and friendship, and family – and the sacrifices we make to help those we love and care about. It is a lovely book – one that will be loved by all readers over the age of eight and will enthral and enchant readers as they enter this fantastical world and have them on the edge of their seats as they go on the journey with Shoestring and the rest of the troupe.

It does refer back to a previous book by the same author and illustrator team, but enough information is given that they can be read separately, but also, together. It is a beautiful story, and one that will be loved and treasured.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling/Newt Scamander

fantastic beasts paperbackTitle: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Author: JK Rowling/Newt Scamander

Genre: Fantasy Text Book

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Published: 31st March 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 160

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: This glorious paperback edition of Newt Scamander’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is considered a classic throughout the wizarding world. It features an extraordinary array of magical creatures, from Acromantula to Yeti via ten different breeds of dragon – all beautifully illustrated in full colour by the brilliantly inventive, Greenaway Medal shortlisted Olivia Lomenech Gill.

Famed Magizoologist Newt Scamander’s years of adventure and exploration have yielded a work of unparalleled importance, admired by scholars, devoured by young witches and wizards, and even made available to Muggles in the early years of this century. With this dazzling illustrated edition, readers can explore the magical fauna of five continents from the comfort of their own armchairs. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is essential reading at Hogwarts.

Now available in a stunning paperback edition with French flaps, this edition contains all of the mesmerising illustrations from the original edition and features the fully updated 2017 text including a foreword by J.K. Rowling, writing as Newt Scamander.

hplogo

~*~

Bloomsbury has released the much-loved Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in a paperback using the expanded, illustrated text from the hardcover edition published in 2017. Usually, only wizards and witches have access to this book, yet now Muggles are able to read about these creatures and learn about them, even if they may not be able to see them or interact with them.

The ratings for the beasts haven’t changed – and the introduction, foreword and introductory notes are written by Newt Scamander are still included, though this time I felt with a few flourishes that make the book interactive and feel as though someone has interacted with the book.

Below are the ratings given to each beast:

X- Boring

XX – Harmless/may be domesticated

XXX – Competent wizards should cope

XXXX – Dangerous/requires specialist knowledge/skilled wizard may handle

XXXXX – Known wizard killer/impossible to train or domesticate

One thing missing is the delightfully fun notes from Ron, Harry and Hermione from the original edition, yet this exquisite one is less a school text and more a guide for wizards at home and abroad.

I’ve written about this one a few times before, and each edition brings something new to the book and I notice something new. In this one, I spent a lot more time taking in the gorgeous colour illustrations of each beast, and the various ways they interact with their environment and wizards. It is a delightful edition, and one I am adding to my collection – I may have multiple editions of some books yet each different edition expands on the world and gives a new scope to the original series and editions. It is something I always look forward too, and with many house and new editions coming out this year, I cannot wait to see how they all come together in the series, and to share my views on how they add to the original magic for readers new and old.

I have enjoyed Harry Potter for almost twenty years – and reading it always reminds me of my best friend and her mum who introduced me to the wizarding world. It is something we will always share, and that is what makes it special to me.

Cover Reveal for Quidditch Through the Ages

illustrated quidditch

As part of the new editions of the Harry Potter books, there is a new illustrated edition of Quidditch Through the Ages, with illustrations by Emily Gravett. The full press release and cover image from Bloomsbury is below.

I love the colour in this cover – the teal background, the golden lettering and the colourful images of the quaffle, the bludgers, the snitch, and a broomstick, as well as various quidditch players zooming around and team colours and emblems. It brings the book to life and it will be lovely to see what is inside.

BLOOMSBURY REVEALS COVER FOR NEW ILLUSTRATED EDITION OFQUIDDITCH THROUGH THE AGES

‘Oh, you wait, it’s the best game in the world.’ Ron Weasley

Bloomsbury Children’s Books has revealed the cover of the full-colour illustrated edition of J.K. Rowling’s Quidditch Through the Ages illustrated by Emily Gravett. The cover showcases some of the key elements of Harry Potter’s favourite sport – including players, team badges and a hovering Golden Snitch waiting to be caught. Devoured by Harry Potter in his first year, Quidditch Through the Ages is consulted on a daily basis by the young witches and wizards at Hogwarts, and this beautifully illustrated edition is set to become a firm favourite for readers of all ages who dream of grabbing a broomstick and taking to the skies.

Publishing in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and USA on 6th October 2020, Quidditch Through the Ages Illustrated Edition features showstopping artwork from Emily Gravett, twice winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal. Emily’s wildly creative imagination has conjured a cornucopia of sporting memorabilia to surprise and delight. With some items lovingly created in a dazzling range of media and infused with her trademark visual wit, these charming and funny artworks are the perfect pairing for J.K. Rowling’s humorous insights into the magical, airborne sport.

Quidditch Through the Ages invites readers to take a whistle-stop tour through wizarding history, reliving epic matches and great moments along the way. Accessible at any point in the Harry Potter reading journey, it is packed with trivia, tales of on-pitch antics, and Quidditch stars past and present. The sports almanac also contains comprehensive profiles of teams loved by readers of the Harry Potter novels.

Quidditch Through the Ages first appears in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. After catching Harry Potter with a copy, it is also the reason that Professor Snape invents the rule that no library books are allowed outside of Hogwarts School. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone continues to mesmerise readers and, in 2019, was the number three bestselling children’s book in Australia overall and the number two children’s novel.

A percentage of proceeds from the sale of this edition will go to J.K. Rowling’s own international charity Lumos, which helps some of the world’s most vulnerable children and young people to have a better life; and to Comic Relief.

Wizarding World Digital has exclusively revealed examples of artwork from Quidditch Through the Ages Illustrated Edition. See Emily Gravett’s astonishing art at the below link.
https://www.wizardingworld.com/news/bloomsbury-reveal-cover-for-new-illustrated-edition-of-quidditch-through-the-ages

Illustrated Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling, Illustrated by Jim Kay

goblet of fire illustratedTitle: Illustrated Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Author: JK Rowling, Illustrated by Jim Kay

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher:  Bloomsbury Australia

Published: 8th October 2019

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 464

Price: $65.00

Synopsis: Dragons! Daring! Danger! The first fully illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is an extraordinary creative achievement by two extraordinary talents. Jim Kay’s inspired reimagining of J.K. Rowling’s classic series has captured a devoted following worldwide, and the drama just gets bigger as the series progresses. With over 150 illustrations, Jim Kay’s unique vision delivers breathtaking scenes and unforgettable characters – including fan favourites Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delacour and Viktor Krum illustrated by Jim Kay for the first time.

Fizzing with magic and brimming with humour, this full-colour edition will captivate fans and new readers alike as Harry, now in his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, finds himself competing in the legendary Triwizard Tournament and facing death-defying tasks, dragons and Dark wizards … Making magic in paint, pencil and pixels, this is the Wizarding World as we have never seen it before.

‘It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be’.

When the Quidditch World Cup is disrupted by Voldemort’s rampaging supporters alongside the resurrection of the terrifying Dark Mark, it is obvious to Harry Potter that, far from weakening, Voldemort is getting stronger. Back at Hogwarts for his fourth year, Harry is astonished to be chosen by the Goblet of Fire to represent the school in the Triwizard Tournament. The competition is dangerous, the tasks terrifying, and true courage is no guarantee of survival – especially when the darkest forces are on the rise.

~*~

Harry Potter has been charming the world for over twenty years, and now, each book is being lovingly illustrated by Jim Kay. In the fourth book, Harry and Hermione join Ron and the rest of the Weasleys at the 422nd Quidditch World Cup. After an enthralling match, the Dark Mark is revived by Voldemort’s supporters – Death Eaters, and soon, everything begins to take a very dark turn as Harry heads back to Hogwarts for his fourth year. This year, the Triwizard Tournament is being reinstated – a competition between three Wizarding schools – Beauxbatons, Durmstrang and Hogwarts. Usually, three champions, one from each school is chosen. But this year, Dark Forces throw Harry – the fourth champion – into the mix as well. From battling dragons, to rifts with friends, the series moves into darker and more dramatic territory. As the story darkens, so do Jim Kay’s exquisite illustrations.

Each illustration evokes the mood of the scene and the novel overall, moving from the excitement of the Quidditch World Cup, to the dangers of facing a dragon, mermaids, and the maze in the third task, and finally, his depiction of Voldemort’s return is eerily exquisite as he captures the fear and harsh reality of Cedric Diggory’s death.

The words on their own are magical and filled with magic – and it is these words that have informed the illustrations that add to the magic of the series. With each book, there are images and scenes that get progressively darker, to reflect the dark direction the series is beginning to move in, leading up to the final Battle of Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

 

I have been reading the Harry Potter series for nearly twenty years, since my best friend and her mum introduced me to them shortly after the fourth book had come out. So these books are special to my friend and I, and this is the one I remember going to pick up her pre-order with her – and from there, I was hooked, and picked up the first book, and then devoured all four and each subsequent book as they came out. These illustrated editions add something magical and beautiful to the ones already out there, and they are a lovely addition to any Harry Potter library.

The Glimme by Emily Rodda, Marc McBride (Illustrator)

TheGlimme.jpgTitle: The Glimme

Author: Emily Rodda, Marc McBride (Illustrator)

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Scholastic Australia/Omnibus Books

Published: 1st October 2019

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 384

Price: $34.99

Synopsis: Lone Annie sees dragons in your future…She sees giants. She sees fire and water. She sees death.

Finn’s life in the village of Wichant is hard.  Only his drawings of the wild coastline, with its dragon-shaped clouds and headlands that look like giants, make him happy. Then the strange housekeeper from a mysterious clifftop mansion sees his talent, buys him for a handful of gold and then reveals to him seven extraordinary paintings. Finn thinks the paintings must be pure fantasy – such amazing scenes and paintings can’t be real!

He’s wrong. Soon he is going to slip through the veil between worlds and plunge into the wonders and perils of the Glimme.

The author of international best-seller Deltora Quest.

The artist who painted Deltora’s world.

An award-winning team.

A spectacular new adventure

Scholastic sent me a copy for review purposes.

~*~

Finn’s world is small and har, yet through his drawing abilities, he creates worlds beyond his own to cope. But his life changes completely when the Housekeeper buys him so he can recreate the seven paintings of dragons and another world in her house – yet in time, he discovers that the paintings are not what they seem, and he is drawn into a fantastical world of the Glimme, where he joins a band of humans, and lions, and other fantasy creatures, who are hiding from a trio of dragons who wish to destroy the world. From here, Finn uncovers a hidden mystery – those who had been drawn into the world before him and someone he thought he’d never see again.

Having read the first Deltora Quest series, and with the next two on my shelf, I knew this was right for me, and it evokes the wonder and magic of Deltora Quest through the magical illustrations that are extremely lifelike, combined with the wonderfully enchanting words of Emily Rodda. It felt like I was back in Del, even though it is an entirely separate world, and I devoured it within two days.

2019 Badge

The illustrations tell the story as much as the written word – giving life to Emily Rodda’s words and evoking a sense of being there, along with Lori, Finn, Teller and everyone else trying to stop the dragons destroying their home and bleeding into the world Finn has come from.

It is an engaging and exciting read for readers aged eight and over, and perfect to read after or even before reading Deltora Quest. It is unrelated, but still lots of fun and feels like it could easily fit into that world as a side story or as part of the narrative itself. As Finn and his friends work to defeat the dragons and save the world, the world within the painting and the real world bleed together and it soon seems all could be lost unless Finn can use his skills to save everyone.

This is a fabulous book and I am grateful to have been able to review it for Scholastic. It is a work of art to be treasured and enjoyed for years to come, and well-suited for anyone aged eight and older. In a country where there other genres seem to dominate the lists and shelves, having Emily Rodda’s fantasy is wonderful, and uses the traditions of fantasy often seen in British books to create a unique world that could be anywhere, but through the genius of an Australian author. A wonderful book, and one that I will love for years to come.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition by J.K Rowling, Illustrated by Jim Kay

hplogo

HP 2 PB Illustrated.jpegTitle: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition

Author: J.K Rowling, Illustrated by Jim Kay

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia

Published: 22nd August 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages:272

Price: $29.99

Synopsis:Jim Kay’s dazzling depiction of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world has won legions of fans since the first Illustrated Edition of the Harry Potter novels was published in hardback in 2015, becoming a bestseller around the world. This irresistible smaller-format paperback edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets perfectly pairs J.K. Rowling’s storytelling genius with the enchantment of Jim Kay’s illustrations, bringing the magic of Harry Potter to new readers with full-colour pictures and a handsome poster pull-out at the back of the book. This edition has been beautifully redesigned with selected illustration highlights – the fully illustrated edition is still available in hardback.

Fizzing with magic and brimming with humour, this inspired reimagining will captivate wizards and Muggles alike, as Harry and his friends, now in their second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, seek out a legendary chamber and the deadly secret that lies at its heart.

~*~

About two years ago, the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets came out in hardcover, with delightful illustrations throughout each page, evoking a sense of Harry’s world beyond the movies and text only or audiobooks. This year, Bloomsbury are releasing a paperback edition – with 60% of the illustrations in a smaller edition.

Many of us know the story from the Chamber of Secrets well – whether we read, watched or listened to it, or a combination of all three. In this book, Harry is set to return for his second year at Hogwarts, despite his horrid aunt and uncle trying to stop him. Yet his return is almost thwarted by Dobby the House Elf, who is keen to protect Harry from dark things happening at Hogwarts – dark things we later learn are linked to the titular Chamber of Secrets, and as students are attacked, the history of the school, and other secrets are revealed.

Jim Kay’s illustrations capture the magic and wonder of Hogwarts, and bring the characters to life in a new way, with full page images of some characters, like Draco Malfoy and Rubeus Hagrid, showing stark differences in their personalities: a smug-looking Draco Malfoy versus a sad, unsure Hagrid, illustrating the sense of entitlement Malfoy has, especially in the early books, versus the true heroes like Hagrid.

I am eager to peruse the hardcover edition again, as there were some things I missed from there in terms of the illustrations. Some of the best are of Dobby, whose presence in this story is one of fun, and at times, worry – but Dobby is only trying to help, in his own way, and the images of him doing this or after he has done this are amongst my favourites, and I will revisit them.

The magic of the original Harry Potter stories is there in all the formats it is in – and the illustrated editions add to this magic and wonder, giving us a new window and interpretation into the world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts. I look forward to reading and exploring the other illustrated editions.

Announcement: Cover Reveal for Illustrated Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

hp20_230.jpgSince 2015, one of my favourite series has had illustrated editions released for each book, and this year not only marks the twentieth anniversary, already discussed in a previous post, but aphilosophers illustrated.jpeg new addition to the already released illustrated editions:

To coincide with the twentieth anniversary of Harry Potter, the third title in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, will be released in an illustrated edition on the third of October 2017. Like the previous two chamber illustratedillustrated editions, Jim Kay has illustrated the story, and brought iconic aspects of the novel, such as the Knight Bus, seen here on the cover, to life. This hardback edition will have a ribbon marker, head and tail bands, illustrated end papers, and has over 115 colour images. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite of the series, and I can’t wait to see the illustrations to accompany the Dementors and the Boggart scenes.Azkaban cover

Like the rest of the illustrated series, it will be published in 21 languages. The illustrated editions began coming out in October 2015, when the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone came out, with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2016. Jim Kay’s reimagining of JK Rowling’s work has sold over one million copies worldwide of the first book.

The entire series has now sold over 450 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 79 languages. It was voted as the nation’s (United Kingdom) favourite book in 2013 in a Booktrust poll.

Jim Kay is a Kate Greenaway Medal winner. The front cover depicted here shows the Knight Bus as it picks up Harry when he runs away from Privet Drive at the beginning of book three.

Expect a darker tone and mood to the images as they reflect the change in tone of the writing and story as the series begins to enter darker territory and the threat of Voldemort begins to rise.

  bloomsburylogo

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated edition by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay

Published in hardback on 3rd October 2017

AU$59.99

336pp

Order Harry Potter here:


The Song From Somewhere Else by A.F. Harrold

song from somewhere ekse.jpg

 

Title: The Song from Somewhere Else
Author: A.F. Harrold, illustrated by Levi Pinfold
Genre: Children’s Fiction/Fantasy/Magical Realism
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: 1/12/2016
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 240
Price: $24.99
Synopsis: Frank doesn’t know how to feel when Nick Underbridge rescues her from bullies one afternoon. No one likes Nick. He’s big, he’s weird and he smells – or so everyone in Frank’s class thinks.

And yet, there’s something nice about Nick’s house. There’s strange music playing there, and it feels light and good and makes Frank feel happy for the first time in forever.

But there’s more to Nick, and to his house, than meets the eye, and soon Frank realises she isn’t the only one keeping secrets. Or the only one who needs help.

~*~

The Song from Somewhere Else tells the story of Francesca “Frank” Patel, bullied by a group of older boys in her school, led Neil Noble and his friends, Rob and Roy. The day she is out searching for her cat, Quintilius Minimus, they accost her, and tease her about the stutter that only appears when they bully her. She is rescued by Nick Underbridge, a boy in her year that is a bit of a loner, but whose act of kindness brings them together for the summer holidays whilst Frank’s friend Jess, is away with her family overseas. This unlikely friendship blossoms as they bond over a love of painting, feeling alone and Swingball. While she is at Nick’s house, Frank hears music that makes her feel good about herself, and she longs to have it at all times. When Nick reveals a secret to her that nobody else knows, their trust in each other grows from there. But what does Frank do with the secret, and how do the events that occur in the novel change her?

Told over the course of five days, with each section a separate day or night, Harrold’s prose sets a scene of mystery and magic, which invites the reader into the world. Aimed at children between nine and twelve years of age, The Song from Somewhere Else can be read by anyone. It is an ageless and timeless story that tells us that there is always someone there for us, and that sometimes, it is the person we least expect it to be.

The mood of the story isn’t overly dark, nor is it overly light. It has complexities about the characters and what is really happening that are conveyed through the black, white and grey illustrations of Levi Pinfold. Each illustration reflects a scene within each chapter, and shows the development of the story in a visual way, allowing the readers to imagine the characters as they read but also in a way that doesn’t feel overly prescriptive. They add to the charm and mood of the story, enhancing the reading experience.

I enjoyed this gem of a book, and enjoyed the way it dealt with issues of secrets, families, friends and bullying in an accessible yet poignant way.

Monarch of the Glen by Neil Gaiman

monarch of the glen.jpg

Title: Monarch of the Glen
Author: Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus
Genre: Fiction/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Headline/Hachette
Published: 8th November 2016
Format: Hardback
Pages: 160
Price: $40.00
Synopsis: We first meet Baldur ‘Shadow’ Moon’s in AMERICAN GODS, where he gets caught up in a war between gods in the USA. In THE MONARCH OF THE GLEN, Shadow’s journey has brought him to the north coast of Scotland, where he finds himself a bouncer at a party.
Shadow Moon has been away from America for nearly two years. His nights are broken with dangerous dreams. Sometimes he almost believes he doesn’t care if he ever returns home. In the Highlands of Scotland, where the sky is pale white and it feels as remote as any place can possibly be, the beautiful and wealthy gather at a grand old house in the glen. And when the strange local doctor offers him work at a party, Shadow is intrigued. He knows there is no good reason for him to be there? So what do they want with him?

~*~
Neil Gaiman revisits the world of American Gods in this short novella, revolving around Shadow and his ongoing journey, battling monsters and gods, and many other aspects of life beyond the confines of what the rest of the world knows. Shadow’s journey has taken him from America to Europe and now, to Scotland, where the job from the mysterious doctor at a strange, remote gathering for many wealthy people, organised by Mr. Alice, and taken to the place my a Mr. Smith. Shadow is unsure of what awaits him, thinking he is there for security or another job. But what awaits him, and the decision he must make, is more terrifying and stranger than he could ever have imagined, even after what he has been through.

The black and white, mostly line illustrations by Daniel Egnéus add to the atmosphere of the story – they represent the characters in a way that isn’t idealistic or perfect – to show that their imperfections on the outside. Whilst the words hint to their inner imperfections and flaws, the secrets they hide and their true intentions, and allow the reader to enjoy the story through the words and visual representations of the characters.

Neil Gaiman’s work covers a wide range of characters and stories, taking the reader into a world that they know but at the same time, is unfamiliar, and uncertain at times – speaking to the fairy tales and myths that have been told and retold for many generations – and reinventing them for a new audience. Having read a few of Neil’s previous novels, I am used to his style and characters. For those who enjoy urban fantasy, fantasy and in a way, magical realism, these books, and indeed Monarch of the Glen, are wonderful reads. Gaiman’s stories do not sugarcoat the reality of the worlds he creates – he shows the good, the bad and the grey, and his characters are complex and the kind that are not predictable, who face challenges and decisions they’re not sure what to do about. Shadow is one of these characters. Another great Neil Gaiman to add to the collection.