A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Classic #3)

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (Classic #3)

Shelved: Classic (children’s, fantasy, science fiction)
Series: Time Quintet (#1)
Published: 1962 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Rating: ★★★
Challenge: Classics – #3
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

This is my third post for the 2016 Classics Challenge – sign up and join 430+ other people in reading one classic each month.

Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure – one that will threaten their lives and our universe.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
It’s a children’s classic that I’ve been aware of since joining the book community. It’s super popular in the US, but not so much in the UK. Last year, Puffin got in touch to offer me a bunch of newly redesigned and published Puffin Classics. I couldn’t say no and requested A Wrinkle in Time.

WHY I Chose to Read It
A Wrinkle in Time is not only a highly-regarded classic (it won the 1963 Newbery Medal), but a much-beloved classic. I was excited to finally pick it up.

WHAT Makes It A Classic
It’s a novel that is seen to be for 9 to 12-year-olds and yet tackles highly complex themes. Good vs. evil – illustrated in the story as light vs. dark – and conformity vs. freedom are woven into the plot. It’s scientific and philosophical, and some say religious.

Jean Fulton wrote: “L’Engle’s fiction for young readers is considered important partly because she was among the first to focus directly on the deep, delicate issues that young people must face, such as death, social conformity, and truth.”

“A straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.”

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
I was intrigued, particularly by the concepts of wrinkling time and tessering; folding the fabric of space and time. Meg, Charles and Calvin are promised that they’ll travel from one area of space to another and arrive back home five minutes before they left. As for the characters, I adored 13-year-old Margaret “Meg” Murray and her younger brother, 5-year-old Charles Wallace, who is both a genius and telepathic. They are the key to saving their father, a scientist studying tesseract, who is being kept on the planet Camazotz.

A Wrinkle in Time is one of the few children’s science fiction classics I’ve read. It’s impressive, challenging and ambitious. As my experience of science fiction is limited to dystopia and post-apocalyptic – and so therefore much easier concepts to grasp – I just about got my head around the science. But I appreciate that it was explained. I attended an event about writing children’s science fiction a few years ago and a comment was made that it’s easier to write for children because there’s less to explain. I’m sure Madeleine L’Engle wouldn’t agree. Rather than simply “travelling through time”, the reader becomes more invested in how this might happen and what could go wrong.

Even so, A Wrinkle in Time was often a little too bizarre for me, as someone who generally reads contemporary fiction. I was hoping that I’d get into the story much more than I did. But I thoroughly enjoyed the personal journey that the children went on and it’s one I’d happily give another shot.

“The only way to cope with something deadly serious is to try to treat it a little lightly.” 

WILL It Stay A Classic
I’m sure it’ll continue to be popular within in the US, but it may be a little too peculiar to be reintroduced to the UK – but time will tell as a new adaptation is currently being made!

“They are very young. And on their earth, as they call it, they never communicate with other planets. They revolve about all alone in space.”
“Oh,” the thin beast said. “Aren’t they lonely?”

WHO I’d Recommend It To
People who love science fiction. People who love stories about complex and challenging themes.

“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”

A Book and a Bag / #PackAPuffin A Book and a Bag / #PackAPuffin

Book Reviews: Christmas with the Savages & Lily and the Christmas Wish

Book Review: Christmas with the Savages by Mary Clive


Shelved: Children’s fiction (classic)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads
Published: October 2015 (originally September 1977) by Puffin
Pages: 186

Okay, it’s a little late (or early?!) for Christmas stories, but I wanted to share my thoughts on two wonderful children’s books. Mary Clive’s Christmas with the Savages was the perfect children’s classic to read in December. It’s about Evelyn, an 8-year-old who much prefers the company of adults to other children. Evelyn is dismayed when she is sent toTamerlane Hall, a large Edwardian house in the countryside, where she finds more children than she’s ever experienced before – the Glens, the Howliboos, and the Savages.

Christmas with the Savages was a delightful festive read, full of humour. It’s based on Mary Clive’s own experiences growing up – and it was lovely to be transported into this eccentric family’s holiday celebrations. All the children are left to roam the house and gardens, so it’s full of hilarious escapades and antics. I loved Evelyn’s prim and proper opinion on just about everything, from the youngest of children to the Nannies, who can’t quite cope with all 13 children!

Christmas with the Savages is a classic I only discovered this year and I’m so very glad I did. If you’re participating in the 2016 Classics Challenge, be sure to consider this one for December!

Book Review: Lily and the Christmas Wish by Keris Stainton


Shelved: Children’s fiction (contemporary, fantasy)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads
Published: November 2015 by Piccadilly Press
Pages: 160
Source: Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!

I think festive children’s stories have to be among the best kinds of stories. Keris Stainton’s Lily and the Christmas Wish was a welcome addition to my winter TBR pile. As Christmas approaches, the little town of Pinewood is so excited that they give everyone a wish to hang up on the town’s giant Christmas tree. But a storm strikes and something odd happens. Christmas wishes begin coming true – but for the wrong people! And Lily discovers that her puppy – an adorable pug named Bug – can talk! Can two children and one pug help make everyone’s wishes come true before it’s too late?

Lily and the Christmas Wish is an incredibly sweet story about festive cheer, fun, and family. It was thoroughly enjoyable to see if Lily – accompanied by her younger brother James – could match up everyone’s Christmas wishes in time. And it was heart-warming to see what everyone wished for: some wishes were funny, some were a little sad. Keris wonderfully blends fantasy with reality. Even though there’s a little bit of magic to the story, it’s really a contemporary tale of a sleepy town and the people who live there. A beautifully wintry story for younger children.

Is it also possible for me to get a talking pug?

Book Review: The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

Book Review: The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith


Shelved: Children’s fiction (fantasy)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

I must confess, I bought Coralie Bickford-Smith’s The Fox and the Star purely because it’s utterly beautiful. Given the name of this blog, it’s probably no surprise. I was especially intrigued when it won the Waterstones Book of the Year. It’s the sort of book that you discover while browsing the shelves of your favourite bookshop and cannot help but pick up, although I bought my copy from a small bookshop that I hadn’t visited before.

Coralie Bickford-Smith is the award-winning designer of the iconic clothbound Penguin Classics and so I knew before I peeked inside that the illustrations would be as beautiful as the exquisite cover design. The Fox and the Star is inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement and the art of William Blake and is certainly an experience. Much of the book lets the pictures speak for themselves; words are unnecessary. But that doesn’t mean that the words aren’t lovely too. The Fox and the Star is the sweet story of one fox finding the courage to step out into the dangerous, dark world to find his lost star.

The Fox and the Star is a glorious book that I immediately put on display on my desk, the perfect gift for all ages.

“Once there was a Fox who lived in a deep, dense forest. For as long as Fox could remember, his only friend has been Star, who lit the forest paths for Fox each night. But then one night, Star was not there, and Fox had to face the darkness all alone…”


Published: August 2015
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 64

Book Review: The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-SmithBook Review: The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-SmithBook Review: The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

Book Review: Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella by Cerrie Burnell & Laura Ellen Anderson

Book Review: Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella by Cerrie Burnell & Laura Ellen Anderson


Series: Harper (#1)
Shelved: Children’s fiction (fantasy)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

As soon as I saw Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella, I had to read it. The lovely illustrations! The cute title! The adorable cat! The yellow raincoat (just like mine)! It’s the perfect children’s book for me, written by TV presenter Cerrie Burnell and with pictures by one of my favourite children’s illustrators, Laura Ellen Anderson. And it was just magical.

Once there was a girl called Harper who had a rare musical gift. She heard songs on the wind, rhythms on the rain and hope in the beat of a butterfly’s wing.’

Harper lives with her Great Aunt Sassy and black cat Midnight. One day, her beloved umbrella breaks. This is unthinkable in the City of Clouds, where it rains almost every day. Sassy shouts to Harper to use the scarlet umbrella. As she opens it up, Harper discovers that it’s no ordinary umbrella – it’s magical! Her glee quickly vanishes upon discovering that Midnight is missing, along with the rest of the neighbourhood cats! Off Harper goes on a series of adventures to find the cats, with a little help from the scarlet umbrella.

Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella is a pure delight. It’s colourful and lyrical, with a lovely amount of detail about the City of Clouds. I particularly enjoyed reading about the different kinds of rain! It also features one of my favourite illustrations in children’s lit so far: a spread of the cats playing in the Midnight Orchestra, which is just glorious. Harper is a dedicated and brave young girl, determined to get to the bottom of the mystery of the missing cats. But she doesn’t mind asking for help. I adored Harper’s new best friend Nate, who is visually impaired, and his loyal wolf Smoke, as well as the other helpful children that find Harper along the way.

Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella is a wonderful children’s story about friendship, cats and celebrating a love of music. I loved it so much that even though I borrowed it from Jim, I now have my own copy! I can’t wait for Harper and the Sea of Secrets, one of the World Book Day 2016 books, and the next book in the series, Harper and the Circus of Dreams.


Published: October 2015
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 128

Behold the Pretty Books! / October Book HaulBehold the Pretty Books! / October Book Haul

Book Review: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver & H.G. Chester

Book Review: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver & H.G. Chester


Series:
The Curiosity House (#1)
Shelved:
Children’s fiction (fantasy, mystery)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads
Challenge: Halloween TBR – #4

I’ve enjoyed two of Lauren Oliver’s middle grade novels before – Liesl & Po and The Spindlersso I was quite excited to see that she had written another. It’s the first in The Curiosity House series and was perfect to add to my Halloween TBR. However, I did make the mistake of picking it up straight after reading The Diviners. Both feature an intriguing museum, mysterious murders and characters with unusual abilities. This similarity meant that I was often mixing the two up! But my favourite thing about The Shrunken Head is the wonderful child characters and the message that just because you’re different, doesn’t mean you need to be ashamed.

The Shrunken Head features four extraordinary children: Philippa the powerful mentalist (she can guess what’s in your pockets!); Sam the world’s strongest boy; Max the knife-thrower; and Thomas, who can squeeze himself into a tiny spaces. They adore working at Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders, and are extremely proud of their abilities. That is, until their prized show-stopper – an Amazonian shrunken head – is stolen from the museum. After a string of brutal murders, the press start spreading lies about the children. Everyone believes it’s the curse of the shrunken head and the child ‘freaks’, so it’s up to Philippa, Sam, Max and Thomas to discover the real culprit!

The Shrunken Head is a delightful and dark children’s mystery from Lauren Oliver and H.G. Chester. I’d have loved even more illustrations – one of my favourite things about children’s books! – from Benjamin Lacombe. They were enchanting and brought the story to life. As with The Diviners, I would have preferred the story to be a little shorter – I like my mysteries shorty and snappy! Nonetheless, it’s a story well worth reading for it’s incredible, feisty protagonists!

We get to see the exciting adventure from each of the children’s points of view. They’re all very unique and talented, even if they’re coming together for one cause. Max is possibly my favourite of them all. She’s so incredibly blunt and has an amazing sense of humour, and is extremely loyal and trustworthy! All of the children were wonderful and yet are often treated as outcasts, but the message of The Shrunken Head is a powerful one: it’s okay to be different.

Published: September 2015 (US) October 2015 (UK)
Publisher: HarperCollins (US) Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
Pages: 368
Source: Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!

Books On My TBR / Halloween