Perfect for children aged 8 to 12 years old and fans of Lemony Snicket, David Walliams, David Baddiel, My Brother is a Superhero . . .
While I try and get my head around the new Google News layout and the loss of various sort options, let me explain the lack of photographs from Monday’s Summer Party on the river terrace at Somerset House.
The annual PenguinRandomHouse party is always a fabulous gathering but it invariably falls in June, a month I have a love-hate relationship with, as I am a hay fever sufferer. Pollen seems to be particularly virulent this year, and I am always badly affected when in London. My eyes were just too itchy and weepy for photography. I kept my shades on for as long as evening light allowed.
I had a great time, even though it turns out I was also hatching a tooth infection.
First up I spoke with 29 yr old Oliver Rodney, strategist for Amazon.
Then with Felix, grandson of Topsy and Tim creators Jean and Gareth Anderson.
This year Francesca Dow’s speech was big on the word magic. “Welcome to our party of wonder and magic… We have a magic wonder tree and we’d love you to help us decorate it with your favourite words.” She told all the creatives who contribute to the company’s publishing programme that they imparted a “special and important magic, the best kind of magic. That’s what you do, all of you, so well. You offer, in this very best sense, an education.”
I never got near enough to Francesca this year to see what she was wearing. Nor did I get close to the magician who was performing card tricks amongst the crowd.
The terrace was so packed it was a case of bumping serendipitously in to lots of familiar faces, including Laurence Anholt and Nigel Hinton, excited about his new novel The Norris Girls with indie Welsh publisher Candy Jar.
Best of all was meeting, towards the end of the evening, Natalia and Lauren O’Hara, whose picture book Hortense and the Shadow is sure to be one of the autumn highlights, as it provided me with another opportunity to tell them face to face how much I enjoyed their presentation at a recent preview event.
My evening ended in a long chat with the guy behind the games, films and entertainment reviews site kidzcoolit.com
Yes, well it’s hard to take a book seriously that chooses to name its Gothic, southernswamp voodoo world after a French supermarket chain, Carrefour – yes, really! It’s perfectly possible that Sullivan, as an American, was unaware of the unfortunate naming assosciation, but surely someone in her editorial team should have pointed it out, and advised on a replacement. They ought, also, to have advised against such silliness as using the spelling ‘sosyete’ for society, for no apparent reason.
It’s a shame, because I was enticed by the Note from the author at the start of the book to think I might be in for a real treat.
“I wanted to create a world that swirled with magic, but I felt strongly the magic should feel tangible and possible…. I wanted the book to remain true to the enigmatic, colourful spirit of Louisiana..”
Sadly the magic, referred to here as ‘zandara’, is all made-up-word mumbo-jumbo nonsense. “Mesi, zanset. Mesi, zanset. Mesi, zanset.”
When it’s working well, all too briefly though, the book is a mixture of the TV series True Blood and a Tim Burton movie. In fact, the whole concept behind the book is much better suited to film scripting than to novel writing. The Dolls of the title – exclusive, high-fashion conscious babes – never really register as real characters. The main character and first-person narrator, Eveny Cheval, does and this is just enough to hold reader attention.
Whether it will be sufficient to carry a readership through to subsequent titles in the proposed series is another matter.
The current viewing figures for The Dolls theme tune are not encouraging.
Research into children’s reading preferences has found that they prefer fantasy, magic and dystopia to realistic novels set in a contemporary everyday world.
The report, by Renaissance Learning, surveyed 426,067 children, and will be published in full in February.
Early findings from the biggest annual survey of UK children’s reading habits were released today, showing a marked preference for dragons, magic and dystopia over novels set in the real world. According to the What Kids Are Reading report, the most-loved books of last year were JK Rowling’s tales of a magical schoolboy, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which came in joint first place in the list, together with Suzanne Collins’s Catching Fire, the second book in the dystopian Hunger Games trilogy.
Joint fourth place went to Christopher Paolini’s tale of dragons and battles, Inheritance, and Rowling’s Chamber of Secrets, with three more Harry Potter titles in joint sixth place, alongside JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero – starring the children of the Greek gods – and Veronica Roth’s story of a dystopian future, Divergent.
The only non-fantasy title to make the list of most-loved books was John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, about a terminally-ill teenage cancer patient who falls in love.