October 2017 Newsletter

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October's News from Bookbag Towers

Hi, hello and welcome to October's witterings from all of us here at Bookbag Towers.

The list of titles for 2018's World Book Day has been announced. So good to see a Paddington book on there. RIP Michael Bond and his wonderful messages about openness and inclusivity. But the 2018 list isn't universally popular. Many children's authors, among them Bookbag favourites David Almond and Anthony McGowan, have criticised it for the number of celebrity authors it contains. Almond says It’s demeaning to children, because it is assuming that children don’t read properly. What do you think? Here at Bookbag, we are inclined to agree. World Book Day should feature quality writing, not famous names. Even so, good luck to an important event. Oh, and good luck in advance to all frazzled parents helping with costumes when the big day eventually arrives!

Samuel Johnson compiled the first dictionary of modern English. Google recently celebrated his 308th birthday with one of their famous doodles. It was first published in 1755, contained 40,000 entries and his definition of excise was this: Excise: A hateful tax collected by wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid. Teehee. You can read the Independent's excellent article about Johnson here.

And lastly, should we laugh at OUP's '"bush gate" or not? OUP has been out and about defending one of its children's books after a reader noticed a potentially inappropriate pair of illustrations. In the first, a group of men walk behind a bush. In the second, an old lady is so shocked at what she sees that her glasses bounce off her nose. We can reassure you nothing untoward is going on behind that bush! said OUP. Ok then said everyone else. Pages are missing apparently. Oops.

Golden Hour

A slight cheat for you in our blast from the past this month! It's a new version of an old story. We're allowed to have flexible Golden Hour rules, right? Especially when we're recommending The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, Peter Bently and Steven Lenton, a 32 page picture book adaptation of the classic children's novel. It's lovely and charming and witty and clever. Text and illustrations are both wonderful and those of you getting in early with your Christmas shopping may want to think of this if you have little ones to buy for.

Books of the Month

And on to to the new... . In fiction, Luke loved The Visitors by Catherine Burns. Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother, John. Marion does her best to shut out the shocking secret that John keeps in the cellar. Until, suddenly, John has a heart attack and Marion is forced to go down to the cellar herself and face the gruesome truth that her brother has kept hidden. As questions are asked and secrets unravel, maybe John isn't the only one with a dark side. This is a dark and thrilling debut novel: disturbing, gripping, and hugely impressive.

Olivia thinks fans of fantasy would enjoy The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli, which revolves around Asha, a fierce young woman who has whispered stories to dragons all her life. But where once she told them in friendship, now she uses stories to hunt all those that still plague her father's fracturing kingdom. Dangerous dragon hunting and beautiful stories are at the centre of a stunning debut. With a complex plot and refreshing originality, The Last Namsara is a spellbinding book

In non-fiction, Sue recommends The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler, a glorious romp through 99 authors who have faded from fashion, supplemented by a dozen short essays to make you think. Entries are short and insightful but infused with impish humour and a glorious number of laugh-out-loud one-liners. Why do some authors stay popular but not others? It's a curiosity that we're sure Bookbaggers will be interested in.

For tweens and teens (and grown-ups, too), Jill brings you Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, a beautiful and emotive graphic novel about the refugee crisis, following a young boy as he makes his way to Europe and a reunion with his sister. The graphic novel format is perfect for this story - vivid, immediate, accessible, and very, very effective. As the authors say, Illegal is a work of fiction, but every separate element of it is true. There are thousands and thousands of Ebos. And we should understand their stories.

Jill also recommends Curse of the Werewolf Boy (Maudlin Towers) by Chris Priestley to all middle grade readers. Mildew and Sponge, our heroes, think their school, Maudlin Towers, is pretty rubbish. Even so, when a dreadful criminal steals the School Spoon and the headmaster threatens the most terrible consequences, they set out to solve the crime. Unfortunately for Mildew and Sponge, detecting isn't as easy as they thought - especially when there are ghosts in the attic, a history teacher with a time machine, and a maniacal crew of Vikings with a werewolf obsession. It's inventive, subversive and a fabulous read.


As ever, Sue has some illuminating author interviews for you this month. She found Start Burrell's book Twelve Times To The Max: One Man's Journey to, and Recollections of, Setting Twelve Verified World Records an inspiring, feel-good read. She wanted to know more when Stuart popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us. Sue was also delighted when she read The Cossack as it restored her faith in the thriller genre. When the author, K J Lawrence, called by, it was a revelatory chat. Sandra Aragona's lightly-fictionalised autobiography of life as a diplomatic spouse was a fabulous read. She told Sue more about the background to the book in a wide-ranging interview.


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 last year?

All at Bookbag Towers

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