April 2014 Newsletter
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April's News from Bookbag Towers
Hi, hello, and what are you reading?
Most importantly this month, we'd like to say RIP Sue Townsend. Her creation, Adrian Mole, began with the teenager navigating adolescence in Thatcher’s Britain and followed him struggling into middle age during Tony Blair's third way. We love Adrian and we'll always be grateful to Sue for bringing him to us. Sue will be deeply missed. And we also have to say goodbye to Nobel prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Gabo, the father of magic realism, died this month, aged 87. We won't see another like him anytime soon.
Are you a budding writer of children's fiction? Could you be the new JK Rowling or write the new Hunger Games? If you're currently without representation, the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing, a new literary prize for newcomers could be the one for you. Check it out here.
For our blast from the past this month, Sue has chosen The Dark Horse by Rumer Godden. It was first published in 1981 and has now been reissued by Virago Modern Classics as children's fiction, but Sue thinks that it will appeal to anyone from 9 to 109. It has a great location, brilliant characters and a thought-provoking page-turning story.
Books of the Month
And on to to the new... . In fiction, John thinks you should read Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes. A very misguided Nazi Fuhrer asks for his first directions in the Berlin of 2011. Mistakenly believing the lad to be a party junior member with his own name on his football shirt, he also thinks for a while it is still 1945. He's soon informed of the truth, but still makes some unfortunate conclusions. This is a well-crafted, and crafty, novel which disproves several stereotypes about the Germans – you can mention the War, and they do have a sense of humour.
In non-fiction, Sue recommends A Little Piece of England: A tale of self-sufficiency by John Jackson, a warts-and-all look at what it's like to run a smallholding and aspire to self-sufficiency. It's informative, entertaining and a pleasure to read. If the idea of self-sufficency appeals to you then you really should read this book: it's not the manual you'll need if you decide to go ahead, but it will tell you what it's really like, not just in the good times but on the days when problems linger around corners waiting to trip you up.
Louise loved A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson, a lively and entertaining introduction into the world of bumblebee conservation. The weird and wonderful world of bee conservation involves such odd activities as pasting numbers onto worker bees, chopping off bee toes and collecting them in pots, squishing male bee heads in solvent to make pheromone paint and chopping the feet off old museum specimens. Who could say that bee conservation is boring?!
For teens, Robert has singled out Bone Jack by Sara Crowe.It's a deeply disquieting tale which mixes old legends with thoroughly modern problems. Ash's village is reeling from foot and mouth, his father is suffering from shell shock after returning from the war, and farmers are going bankrupt all around. It's the perfect balance of these elements which make this stand out as something special.
For the littlest of little ones, Zoe loved The Way To The Zoo by John Burningham. Brilliant fun for those who live in a zoo, or who just feel like they do, this is a fun-filled frolic you couldn't not love. The illustrations are lovely, and the wording is simply perfect for reading aloud and building some suspense. She'd give it 6 out of 5 if she could.
In our feature section this month, Sally Green came by to share her choices of desert island books with us. Sally was relieved that she didn't need a stack of 'how to' volumes and that she'll was able to indulge herself with some excellent books. We're just wondering how she's going to get them all there!
There are interviews, too! Robert thought that Far From You by Tess Sharpe was very difficult to review without giving away too much of the plot - but he had lots of questions ready when the author popped in to see us. Jim can't stop talking about the Sesame Seade Mysteries so he was delighted when author Clementine Beauvais and ilustrator Sarah Horne rolled up ready to answer his questions. Robert loved A Kiss In The Dark by Cat Clarke and he had quite a few questions for Cat when she talked to us for a second time. Jim gave five stars to Bone Jack by Sara Crowe and thought it was classic fantasy at its finest. He really couldn't wait when Sara popped in to chat to us.
We're always on the look out for people to join our panel of reviewers at Bookbag. We need people who understand that the reader wants to know what the reviewer thinks about the book and not just what's written on the back cover. If you think that you're one of these special people that we're looking for, we want to hear from you. You can find details of how to apply here on the site. Don't be shy!
We have competitions for some great books going this month, and every month, so get entering!
And that's about it for this month. If you're passing Bookbag Towers do pop in and see us – we're at www.thebookbag.co.uk.
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