Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Executioner's Daughter

She’d never get used to beheadings. No matter what Pa said.

Moss is the executioner’s daughter and basket girl. The person who has to catch the heads when Pa cuts them off. She lives in The Tower of London during Tudor times. She hates being the basket girl but her father wants to stay in Tower to keep her safe...

This story is scary but not spooky because it is about real life, mostly... Moss’s own story, set in the sharp detail of everyday life, against the background of Tudor history.  What makes the book so exciting is the characters you meet and the fact that you know the ending is going to happen but you don’t know whose side it will be on.

Without giving away too much, you will meet The Ragged Man with his huge moving sack, Two Bellies the bully, Salter the sneaky boot stealer, Anne Boleyn and Nell who smells of wee.

The Executioner’s Daughter by Jane Hardstaff (Egmont 2014) is a capturing book that makes you want to keep reading. It’s as good as Rooftoppers which means it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’d say it’s for about 9 plus because I got scared reading it at school and even my dad was scared when he read it! It may put off boys because the main character is a girl, but it is serious and sinister and not mundane like pony books or babyish like princess books.

My question for Jane Hardstaff would be if she is going to write a book about Salter?


Jane Hardstaff replies:

What a lovely review - thank you! I'm so glad you felt my story was better than mundane pony books. Maybe if someone were to write about evil ponies, that would be worth reading...

When I wrote The Executioner's Daughter, it was always my hope that readers would live the story with Moss, so to hear you were excited (and scared) is brilliant. It's a tricky thing to write convincingly and scarily. Sometimes I use my own experiences and feelings to plunge myself into Moss' head. Anyway, I hope you weren't too traumatised!

To answer your question - am I going to write a book about Salter? Well, I am writing a sequel to The Executioner's Daughter. It's called River Daughter and is basically the story of what happens to Moss and Salter's friendship when an old acquaintance of Salters called Eel-Eye Jack, comes between them. So, there's a LOT of Salter in the next book. He's a joyous character to write - full of cussing and mischievous little sayings.

Anyway, good luck with your blog and your hair is the best.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

“In an iridescent sparkle of frosted light he appeared, a huge white bear, shifting and shimmering into solid form.”

The bear came to her house. I can’t tell you her name because you find it out much later in the book. She has dreamt of him many times so she didn’t find it scary. Her father wrote for a newspaper and some of the new rulers didn’t like what he was writing. So her family had to go to another country. The bear says that if she goes with him, her family will get out of the mess they are in...

The book is magical in its story and magical to read. A girl, against the world, looking for her love. A magical world of animals, Winds, castles, troll queens, and a real girl. The writing is beautiful and exciting at the same time.

East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Jackie Morris (Frances Lincoln 2013) is for seven and a half year olds to about ten year olds because I don’t think anyone younger would understand it much because it is about hunting for love. This book is one of the best I have read, along with Rooftoppers. I would like to ask Jackie Morris if she thinks that children and adults will feel  differently about the ending.

Jackie Morris (in the middle in the picture below) replies:

I think everyone who reads it will feel a little differently about the ending. But maybe it's not an ending but a new beginning. Maybe the characters will stay with you and you might wonder how he is, the bear prince, and what she is doing? Does she still feel the wind under her wings? And what of the castle that lies in that place, East of the Sun, West of the moon? Who lives there now and do flowers carpet the whole land around making it look as if snow has fallen? on East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Saturday, 1 March 2014

A Room Full of Chocolate

Mum found a lump under her arm on my tenth birthday.

I wrote this fact down in my special blue book that I use for my stories and plays.

I is Grace, a girl who is made to live with her grumpy granddad that her mum says is an old goat, because her mum is in hospital. She finds a friend called Megan who has a pet pig called Claude. Grace misses her mum so much, even chocolate can’t make it better, but when Grace is with Megan she sometimes sees visions of her mum playing with her friend Allie, Megan’s mum.

The book is written in the first person, including some diary entries. The diary pages are decorated by Grace with roller stamps and pictures. The storytelling is lifelike and full of Grace’s hopes and fears.

A Room Full of Chocolate by Jane Elson (Hodder, 2014) is for anyone, including most boys sort of. The last bit is the best, but I’m not going to spoil it for you. I would like to ask Jane Elson if she has written her own experiences into the book?

Jane Elson has replied on Twitter: A Room Full Of Chocolate is semi autobiographical in parts. "Lovely to know that something that happened in my childhood is touching people's hearts through my book."

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth

“Clemency Wrigglesworth stood at the foot of the gangway and stared up at the big white ship.”

Clemency’s dad has died in a horse race so she’s left with her mum. Clemency and her mum are going to find relatives in England but her mum dies so Clemency goes alone. When the ship lands in England, Clemency is taken in by a family who run a hotel: Leicester, Whitby, Gully and Aunt Hett. There are so many people in their family, they are all called after the places they were born because they are a travelling family. But then a mysterious lady called Miss Clawe takes her away to find her real family...

The story unfolds in two places, so we follow Clemency and her horrible life, but at the same time the Genuine Red Indians are hunting for her. Gully and Whitby never give up hope so nor do we.

The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth by Julia Lee (Oxford 2013) is an exciting read that is great for seven year olds and upwards as long as they know every book has a happy ending. I would like to ask Julia Lee why she thinks so many stories are about orphans.


Julia Lee replies:

That’s a really good question. It’s not just to make readers feel sad about the orphaned character, I can assure you. If Clemency had been well looked after by two nice, healthy, and sensible parents I wouldn’t have had a story! There’s much more scope for exciting and challenging things to happen with mum and dad out of the way for some reason. When children find themselves alone and in charge, they have to work out what to do, how they feel, who to trust, and so on, which gives the author lots to write about.

A hundred years ago and more, health care and medicines were not nearly so effective, ordinary life was risky, and so children were much more likely to be orphans. It’s still true in some parts of the world today. Stories written or set in the past, or in other countries, will reflect this. But in most modern books, if parents are absent or useless, it’s for more modern reasons.

I'm so glad you enjoyed my book, and thank you for your great review! There's another story about Gully and the Marvel family coming out later this year.


Sunday, 12 January 2014

Seriously Sassy – Crazy Days

“It’s half seven in the morning and I’m in my Greenpeace nightie, playing air guitar and belting out, “Yay! Life is great in every way!” when I stop in my tracks cos the tiger on my wall poster’s staring at me accusingly with two sad amber eyes.”

Sassy is a song-writer with the offer of a record contract, who intends to use her fame and money to make the world a better place. She is also on the hunt for a boyfriend but she has to chose between two boys.

Sassy tries to change herself when the record deal company decide they don’t want her. But when something really bad happens her talents are needed.

I listened to the first Seriously Sassy book on a long car journey and even my Dad didn’t complain. Reading the second one made me laugh even more! Sassy, Taslima, Cordelia, Twig, Magnus, Digby, Dad and Megan are all back to raise money and save the day.


Seriously Sassy – Crazy Days by Maggi Gibson and published by Puffin (2010). For readers 7 upwards because it is about boyfriends. The end will make you laugh out loud! I would like to ask Maggi Gibson how she came up with the idea for the end!


Alongside The Executioner's Daughter, Rooftoppers is still possibly the best book of all. Click on Older Posts to read about it.