Friday, 16 August 2013

Stitch Head by Guy Bass

This book appeared in our school library about three weeks before the end of term. I hadn't heard of it but was absolutely fascinated by the lovely front cover, so I quickly added it to my ever-expanding summer holidays reading pile. And I'm really glad I did, because I absolutely loved it.

Stitch Head is the very first creation of the Mad Professor Erasmus, who lives in the spooky Castle Grotteskew. The Professor is very similar to Doctor Frankenstein, and is absolutely obsessed with trying to breathe life into strange creatures (dog-faced cats, headless horses, frog-children, etc). Stitch Head is very soon forgotten by his creator and left to wander the castle all by himself. However, even though the Professor no longer cares about him, Stitch Head is incredibly loyal and always tries to help the Professor in any way he can. Stitch Head has just made friends with the Professor's newest creation, a creature known simply as the Creature, when there is a knock at the door. It is the the owner of a mysterious circus, Fulbert Freakfinder, and he desperately wants the Professor to leave the castle and go and work for him...immediately. But why are a group of angry villagers marching on the castle with pitchforks and flaming torches? How will Stitch Head cope without the Professor? And how will the Professor cope without Stitch Head?

This book was an absolute joy. Although it's 180 pages, it's a really easy read and I managed it in one sitting. There are some very funny moments but also some quite sad parts, as Stitch Head is a really lonely character with absolutely no self-confidence. The illustrations by Pete Williamson on each page are fantastic and really add to the story. After doing a quick search on the internet, I was delighted to find out that there at least three other Stitch Heads books available, so hopefully they will be appearing in our school library very soon (won't they Mrs Smith?).

Your're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but in this case I'm glad I did.

Highly recommended for Year Four and above.

Mr Biddle

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Rendezvous in Russia by Lauren St John

This is the fourth book in the exciting Laura Marlin Mystery series (following Dead Man's Cove, Kidnap in the Caribbean and Kentucky Thriller) and I have really been looking forward to reading it. As always, the cover is beautifully illustrated and helps create exactly the right atmosphere for the book.

Laura is at home in St Ives, relaxing with her family, after defeating evil criminal gang The Straight As yet again. However, it isn't long before the action starts. A scene from a film called The Aristocratic Thief is being shot on the cliffs near Laura's home. Her three-legged dog, Skye, heroically rescues a young actress who has fallen from the cliff, which then leads to Laura and her best friend Tariq being invited to St Petersburg in Russia as a thank-you. Before they leave, they find out that the film has been plagued by problems since production started and that there have been several unexplained, and almost fatal, accidents.

When they arrive in Russia they are given a tour of a world famous art gallery by a mysterious Russian and soon discover that an enormous crime is being planned. Will Laura, Tariq and Skye be able to prevent it? Or will the Straight As finally get the better of them?

I have read most of Lauren St John's books, enjoying them all, and this is no exception! As ever, the story moves along at a great pace and introduces lots of interesting minor characters (the grumpy old actor given the starring role in the film was my personal favourite). I was also delighted that the evil mastermind behind the Straight As was finally revealed. There was one slightly disappointing part in the middle of the book when the mystery behind all the accidents on the film set was brought to a rather rushed conclusion, but the rest of the story is fantastic. I really hope that this isn't the last Laura Marlin book, but the way that the book ends suggests that it might be.

If you haven't read any of the Laura Marlin books yet, pop down to the library and borrow Dead Man's Cove. You won't be disappointed.

Thanks to Orion Books for the review copy. WEJS Book Club members will also publish reviews of this book as soon as school starts.

Mr Biddle.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Summer reading

Hope you are all enjoying the holidays and that the Summer Reading Challenge is going well! If you haven't started yet, then get yourself down to the library SOON!  VERY SOON!  NOW!  YESTERDAY!

Unfortunately due to someone being silly on the blog, I've had to change the password needed to log-in and write posts. The username is still the same as it was; the password is the same as it was, minus the first four letters. If that doesn't make sense, please send me a message via the blog and I'll help you.

I've been reading lots this summer (just for a change) so I thought I would share some of the books I have enjoyed so far. I'd also love to know what you have been reading so please share anything you've enjoyed in the comments box below.

1) Book 1 of The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula le Guin. Very enjoyable, but not the easiest read. The books are almost fifty years old now, so the way that some of the sentences are written is a little old-fashioned. I'll read the other books in due course.

2) You're a Bad Man Mr Gum! by Andy Stanton. People have been telling me how great these books are for years, and they're right. Quite similar in style to Philip Ardagh and John Dougherty, very funny with lots of ridiculous situations. There seems to be about fifty in the series already.

3) The Midnight Library (Blood and Sand) by Nick Shadow. Wow! Didn't know about these books, but loved reading this one. It's made up of three short stories, all very creepy (in fact, how the Goosebumps books should be!). The first story, called Blood and Sand, was definitely my favourite. How does The Sandman make his beach sculptures so lifelike and realistic? You'll have to read the story and find out.

4) Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. Just brilliant! These books are now almost seventy years old, but they are such a pleasure to read. Pippi (or Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking, to give her her full name) is a very unusual nine-year-old girl. She lives in a house with her monkey, Mr Nilsson, and has incredible strength. You really must read these books at some point, as they are quite unlike anything else you will have read. The books have recently been reissued with illustrations by Lauren Child (who also did the Charlie and Lola books).

I've not read a zombie book for almost two weeks now, so this weekend I'm going to get stuck in to the second of Charlie Higson's brilliant zombie series, The Dead (which seems to take place before the first book, The Enemy).

Mr Biddle