July 2012 Newsletter

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July's News from Bookbag Towers

Hi, hello, how are you? Andy Murray didn't win Wimbledon. Boo! It keeps raining. Boo!

There's news from The Reading Agency about this year's summer initiative for children. Every year, thousands of families all over the country are involved in the UK's biggest reading event for children in libraries, the Summer Reading Challenge, coordinated by The Reading Agency. In 2012, the Challenge is called Story Lab. The aim of the challenge is to get children to read six books from their library during the summer holidays. Just head to your local library at the beginning of the summer holidays. You can find out more here.

G P Taylor - who has written some rather scary books for children - has recently said that we should stop doing that. Writing scary books for children, that is. Well, the consensus here at Bookbag Towers is that this is another boo. Boo! Charlie Higson and Patrick Ness also disagree with Mr Taylor. Children like to be scared. Fairy tales are scary! What do you think about this?

Are you off on your holidays soon? If so, read on. We have some great reading suggestions for you.

Golden Hour

We're going back to 1992, and then another 300 years in this month's blast from the past. Ulverton by Adam Thorpe comprises twelve short-stories about people associated with the fictional village of Ulverton. They produce a book about the ways in which people live with, on and in the landscape. It is about how people leave their mark through the most subtle of ways and it is deeply affecting. After reading Ulverton, you will never look at a place name, a road name, a footpath or the rural landscape, or read an historical account in quite the same way.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Ani loved Communion Town by Sam Thompson. One city but it may as well be many as each person's perception of it is coloured by their experiences within it. Each chapter introduces us to a different story, a different viewpoint and therefore, practically a different city. Starting with the ominous, creepy story of Nicolas, through stories encapsulating such themes as recaptured friendship, murder and an enigmatic take on the life of a private investigator, we start to piece together the nature of Communion Town... or do we? This novel is as genre-defying and original as it is intriguing, inviting a second reading as the layers beneath the surface gradually emerge.

In non-fiction, John thinks historical buffs should take a look at The Road Not Taken by Frank McLynn, a solidly-researched account of the seven occasions since the Norman conquest on which Britain has come close to revolution, from the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 to the General Strike of 1926. It's an impressively researched and thoroughgoing work.

For teens, Jill loved The Seeing by Diana Hendry. It's 1956 when Natalie comes storming into the quiet seaside town of Norton and slap-bang into Lizzie's life. Natalie is from the wrong side of the tracks and reserved, well-to-do Lizzie is immediately drawn to this unconventional girl who wears her poverty and neglect like a badge of courage. As the two girls grow closer over the summer, Natalie reveals a shocking secret - her odd younger brother Philip has the gift of second sight and can see "left over Nazis" lying in wait, ready to start another war when the time is right. Natalie says it's up to the three of them to rid Norton of these LONs. This enacing and atmospheric story with a little bit of the supernatural mixed in is short but beautifully formed.

For the littler ones, Robert recommends Pea's Book of Best Friends by Susie Day. Pea isn't too sure about moving from Tenby to London. Instead of starting secondary school with her friend Dot, she'll be by herself. But now that her mum is a best selling author, things are changing, and Pea and her sisters Clover and Tinkerbell will have to adjust. Can she find someone to fill the Dot-shaped hole in her life (and particularly at the desk next to her in lessons?) This first in the Pea series is a modern classic in the making, with stunning characters, really engaging prose, and a lovely plot.


The winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction prize will be announced in November. With eight great books on the longlist, we're spoiled for choice. You can't find our round up of the runners and riders here. And author Victoria Eveleigh popped in to explain why Pony Books Aren't Just For Girls.

We've grilled many authors for your edification this month! Our reporter's pad has never been so busy. We were very impressed by Gerry Wells' book of short stories based on his experiences of crewing a Sherman tank in WWII. Chatting to him was too good an opportunity to miss. When we read My Big Fat Teen Crisis by Jenny Smith we loved Jenny's breezy writing style. It was a real pleasure to chew the fat with her when she popped in to Bookbag Towers. Robert absolutely loved Ruth Warburton's A Witch in Winter and A Witch in Love, so he was thrilled to get the chance to interview her. We thought that The Wizard of Crescent Moon Mountain by Oldman Brook was a real roller-coaster ride. As soon as we'd picked ourselves up we asked Oldman to pop in and chat to us.

We thought that Simon Packham's latest novel tackled a difficult subject with warmth and a surprising amount of humour, so we had quite a few questions for him when he came into Bookbag Towers. One of our favourite novels for tweens and younger teens so far this year is the absolutely outstanding Pea's Book of Best Friends by Susie Day – a definite modern classic! We were thrilled to interview Susie.


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.

What were we reading a year ago?

All at Bookbag Towers

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