The Magic Place by Chris Wormell

Published 22 August 2019 by David Fickling Books

This stunning cover is holding onto a secret…..a brilliant story!

I requested this book from the lovely folk at David Fickling books and I am so glad they sent it along to me.

The cover is alluring and the blurb on the back made it even more irresistible. Thanks to jet lag, I am awake at odd hours and tired at others so this kept me awake and happy this evening.

We meet Clementine, a young girl with rather large ears and very short hair. She is locked in a basement room with only a bed for company. Clementine, unfortunately, lives with her fiendish Aunt and Uncle., Vermilia and Rufus. They treat her horribly- forcing her to do all the housework, locking her in a basement and rarely feeding her. They are pretty scary to look at as well! Her one companion is a white cat named Gilbert. He avoids the adults and listens well to Clementine.

Throughout the story, as a reader, you are asking where her parents are, why are the aunt and uncle so cruel and why is she always locked away? Well one day, she is forced to clean up after a long night of her aunt shooting lead bullets everywhere. She finally gets a chance to snoop around. She discovers a window and the sky and begins to dream of a magic place, with mountains, fields and heather.

Clementine also uncovers a secret…..she is living with a pair of incredibly experienced thieves! The attic is stuffed full of their spoils. She also finds a stuffed rabbit who seems so familiar to her.

The plot thickens with the arrival of a colourful young man clearly searching for something, stopping everyone on the streets, including the Aunt and Uncle. They escape in time but they are clearly who he is looking for.

Vermilia and Rufus try to avoid the young man and almost succeed until an incident featuring sausage links, a broken pocket and a stampede of dogs. It is actually quite comical. What happens next leads us on a chimney chase across the city.

This book is completely delightful, it had me hooked from the first line, desperate to learn about Clementine, hopeful for a happy ending and worried there wouldn’t be one! I loved Gilbert and wished for him to help Clementine, to lead her to safety and into the arms of family.

It has a Victorian feel to it with the clothing, the orphan and presence of so many chimneys. It also made me think of The Twits and their tricks and antics, although Vermilia is largely violent and more scarier than Mrs Twit.

The story is excellent but I must admit, the illustrations truly shape the characters and ensure we can see clearly all that is happening. Brilliant drawings throughout the whole book, all done by Chris Wormell.

I can see this being incredibly popular and recommend it for 8+!

Go on, buy it, you know you want to!

Little Tiger Wonders

Little Tiger is a firm favourite in our house. They are publishing so many wonderful titles that I feel the book obsession taking over. I have that “must have” feeling when I see their picture books. The three in today’s post are all stunning, colourful and worthy of mentioning and celebrating.

The Space Train by Maudie Powell- Tuck, Illustrated by Karl James Mountford, Publishing 5 September

An enchanting space station where Jakob and Granny live light years away from Earth. This is full of gadgets, bolt laying chicken bots and a secret hiding in Hangar 19.  

It turns out that Jakob has found the abandoned space train which had been working when Granny was a little girl.  

Working together, Granny and Jakob fix and mend the space train in the hopes it will take them on some new adventures and fun across the universe. 

With stunning illustrations from Karl James Mountford and lift the flaps hiding space creatures, this is a fun book to read and share. 

Along the side of some pages is Jakob’s log where he records important details about his life and inventory of the space station.  It also documents his lack of friends, which is why he is so excited to fix the space train.

This is such a creative book and I enjoyed lifting the flaps, reading the logs and blasting away with Jakob and Granny.

In Every House on Every Street by Jess Hitchman, Illustrated by Lili la Baleine, Published 8 August

A lyrical, rhyming book perfect for children learning about the world around them.

It shows regular families going about their day to day routines, exploring the idea that all families have a similar routine of cooking in the kitchen, sleeping in bedrooms and washing in bathrooms.  

Gloriously illustrated make it a joy to read and discover.  Especially the fold out pages!

The joy of the family going about their baking,  eating together and playing together is heart warming and proves that we share similarities and differences in all our homes. One thought resigns supreme when reading…..friends, family and love are universally shared!

A lovely book that could be read to any class around the world to stem conversations about homes, family and traditions in cultures!

The Wonder Machine by Barry Timms, Illustrated by Laura Brenlla , Publishing 5 September

Barry Timms is incredibly lucky as his books tend to have peek through pages and lift the flaps, and incredible illustrations to match wondrous stories! 

Fox is a brilliant engineer, inventor and all round clever girl! She can fix anything and is set to create the wonder machine.  The wonder machine can make what you need most.  

Fox needs to search for a few items in order to create this amazing machine so she sets off to town, meeting others and helping them along the way.  In exchange for her help, the animals offer her the items she needs. 

This gorgeous book is full of love, friendship and helping others.  Will the wonder machine give Fox what she wants most? Read on to find out.

Barry Timms is one of my new favourite authors. His books create wonderful worlds where happiness reigns and friendships blossom.  Perfect books for children ages 3 and up! It just so happens  I had a class of Year 6 enjoying this book in July so it works for any age! 

Loving the books Little Tiger! Keep them coming!

Mr Dog and a Hedge Called Hog

Written by Ben Fogle and Steve Cole, Illustrated by Nikolas Ilic Published by Harper Collins Children’s

Mr Dog is on the road again, or in this case, on a boat travelling to an island. As he is a stowaway, he is using his nose to help him figure out what is happening in this new place. There seems to be some mystery involving a hedge. A chance encounter with a basset hound named Dandy, leaves Mr Dog with a mystery to solve about hedgehogs.
Mr Dog loves an adventure and sets off straight away!
It turns out that Dandy, his owner, and their dog sniffer friends are hunting hedgehogs. The gentleman Mr Dog cannot let this happen- he is a friend to all creatures.
Putting his own sniffer to use, he soon meets Hog, a young hedgehog. As night draws near, they realise they are in incredible danger from Dandy and his gang.
It’s going to take more than hiding out to avoid being captured or worse.

Hog and Mr Dog work together and put their trust in each other to make it to a safe destination on the island.

I continue to be a huge fan of Mr Dog and love his kindness to all creatures, his willingness to save them and his elegant red and white hanky around his neck. He is indeed handsome and could perhaps become Sir Dog!

Mr DogAn excellent book series for younger readers and those who love animals. Ben always adds a special informative page about the focus animals to help children know more about them.
There is a sample of the next book in the back so I am already looking forward to that! Keep them coming Ben and Steve.
Illustrations by the talented Nikolas Ilic

The Princess Who Flew with Dragons

Written by Stephanie Burgis, Illustrated by Freya Hartas, Published by Bloomsbury

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from meeting Sofia and learning about her past to seeing her blossom into an intrepid traveller and diplomat.

At the beginning of the story I could not have foreseen the brilliant adventure that was to come. There are frozen royalty, ice giants and loyal dragons, plus a tricky kobold to keep it all interesting!

Sofia is not a great princess, she prefers her own company and tries not to leave her rooms. Older sister Katrin is now the Crown Princess and ruler of Drachenburg, bossy and not particularly caring towards Sofia. Theirs is a troubled relationship.

Sofia is sent to the Diamond Exhibition in another kingdom but is not made to feel welcome, due to arriving by dragon. Sofia uses this opportunity to hide herself on Scholars’ Island and learn from the greatest philosopher.

Trouble ensues and Sofia finds herself mixed up with goblins and a kobold. Quick friendships are formed and they hang out together for a couple of weeks. That is until Katrin finds out and travels to Sofia.

Trouble finds them all in the form of angry ice giants intent on protecting their lands from invasions. They freeze all the royals and a dragon. Sofia decides to save them and to do anything to find her sister. This includes making a pact with the kobold in exchange for invisibility.

Adventure doesn’t get any better than flying on a dragon to a northern world, meeting and speaking with angry ice giants and saving her sister. All this from a Princess Who doesn’t feel like a Princess.

An easy, enjoyable read and part of a series involving the dragons, Jasper and Aventurine. I am already adding those to my wishlist. The characters are well planned and the adventures are brilliant, making you feel you are a part of the action!

Highly recommended for all!

Princess BMX Blog Tour

Welcome to My Shelves are Full and thanks for stopping by!

I am thrilled to be a part of this blog tour. This is one of my top reads of the year for a few reasons…..I love the feisty Avariella, loved the adventure and I think it is an excellent novel for those working up to longer books with more intense plot lines. My daughter is enjoying it and it is building up her reading stamina.

I reviewed it in an earlier blog post so please do read that and buy the book!

Please continue reading for the guest post from the lovely and talented Marie Basting!

Rewriting my Story – How Writing Changed my Life

In January 2013, I launched my blog Riewriting, declaring to the world my intention to ‘rewrite my story through telling stories’. I’d recently taken redundancy, and I was ready to start again. To take control of my own narrative and see where writing might take me. I published my first blog post and set out to write fiction that would be entwined with my own truth.

Heavy stuff, yes. But I was serious. I had a second chance, and this time I wouldn’t let other people’s expectations stand in the way of my dreams.  I’d prove wrong the careers advisor who said girls like me don’t become writers, leave my demons behind, show everyone I was just as worthy as the overconfident public schoolboys I’d encountered as a student journalist. I was going to write a book and in doing so redefine myself. I was forty-four. Maybe I was having a midlife crisis, but it was classier than buying a sports car or having an affair with my secretary.

So, to use a writing analogy, I’d defined my problem, developed a plan of action and I was about to cross the threshold and put the demons to sleep once and for all. But entering Act Two, I realised I had a problem: I knew absolutely nothing about writing. So, like any good hero, I had to find a way to get around this obstacle. First up, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators(SCBWI) and started to attend a local critique group. People there talked about voice and structure and elusive creatures called agents: armed with red pens and rejection letters, they, apparently, were the new demons. And rather than kill, I had to seduce them. 

This all seemed a tad scary. But I’d put myself out there, I was already blogging about being a writer,so I’d better crack on and become one. The first step, I figured, was to sound like one of those authoritative critique sorts. I signed up for an MA in Writing for Children at Manchester Writing School where I could learn more about voice and structure and those elusive creatures called agents. At the same time, I started volunteering for SCBWI. Attending my first writing conference, I realised the difference between aspiring writers and published authors was, largely, years of perseverance honing their skills and believing they could do it.

This brought me back to changing my narrative. If I talked like I was confident, I’d feel confident, right? So I kept blogging. I kept volunteering. And after having my first short story published, I signed up to teach creative writing in schools through the university’s ambassador scheme. In short, I took every opportunity I could. I presented myself as a writer and expert in children’s publishing and,much to my surprise, I was becoming one. 

Things really started to come together after I heard Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary talk about high concept fiction at the 2016 SCBWI conference. I became much more strategic, mindful of what was driving the market and how I could make my ideas more attractive to the agent-demons. I also started to believe my own publicity. Having immersed myself in the book world, I finally felt I could belong. Pitching Princess BMX to Rachel Leyshon from Chicken House a year later didn’t seem too scary. She was no demon. She was my angel, a book deal soon following. 

I’d rewritten my story. I was a writer. Proving that with the right narrative, we can all belong.  


        PRINCESS BMX by Marie Basting is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

The Girl with Space in her Heart

By Lara Williamson, Cover Illustration by Julie McLaughlin, Published by Usborne

Sadly I must admit I haven’t read any of Lara Williamson’s previous books and I know now that I am missing out on amazing stories. Cue me rushing to the library to borrow the others.

This book had me smiling, giggling and crying within the pages.  It is heartfelt, honest and hopeful.

Mabel and Topaz are sisters living with their mum.  Dad is not with them and, as the reader, we are not sure where he is.  New boyfriend Gavin is in the picture and things are getting serious.  He is spending more and more time with the family but Topaz is untrusting.  She finds reasons to dislike Gavin and brings Mabel into the fold. Mabel likes Gavin and shares a keen interest in astronomy with him and finds she can bond with him easily.  She is torn between her like of Gavin and her relationship with her sister.

So much happens to Mabel and Topaz throughout the book and both are carrying heavy, emotional suitcases neither realising how the other is struggling.  It takes an accident for truths to be shared and problems halved.   At times a gripping emotional tale of young girls and what they carry with them everywhere.

As schools deal with mental health and multiple issues surrounding young people, this book made it clear how easy it can be to assume that someone is alright, especially if they are quiet or seem to be happy.  I love the character of Mabel and her trusting and innocent instincts balancing Topaz and her trust issues in the fight to save their mother’s heart from a breakup. 

Five stars from me and one I will be recommending to all my schools.  A perfect book to reach out to students who may also be weighed down with a worry suitcase.