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Table of Contents                                                                               Children's Book Reviews







Fantasy & SF







Feature Articles


New ALLISON & BUSBY titles

Scene of the Crime

Yen Press Manga

What makes a classic book?

Judging a book by its cover

Introducing the Original Dangerous Books for Boys

Interview: James Delingpole

Nostalgia: Things are what they used to be!

Nostalgia Central: Carlton Books

Elizabeth Chayne's Reading Room

Personalised Noddy Books from Harper Collins


Stories and Serials


Phyllis Owen: A Soft White Cloud Chapter Four

Gareth Owen: Poem

Paul Norman: Daylights

Paul Norman: Heraklion ~ Outcast

Star Wars: Dark Emperor

Owen Owen's Gallery


Marvel comics

Top Cow comics

Image Comics

DC Comics

Dark Horse Comics

Devil's Due Comics

MALORIE BLACKMAN: THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES (Doubleday HB) Kyle has always been afraid of things, especially dying. But when he gets on the train that is taking him and his class on a school trip, he has no idea how close to death he is going to come. Death enters the train and Kyle moves with him, past his friends, who are frozen in time, in life-or-death situations. Kyle finds that he can pick up on their deepest, darkest fears - real things that have happened to them, or may happen in the future, and sometimes their surreal nightmares too. Kyle realises that he isn't the only one who has buried fears and, more importantly, he now burns with the desire to live, and to live without fear. But will death release him? My first sight of a Malorie Blackman book and it turns out to be a terrific read! Malorie knows how children's minds work, and this is a real chiller. If you've ever had a nightmare, you'll identify with this.

CLASSIC CHILDREN'S STORIES BOOK OF THE MONTH - ENID BLYTON: NODDY ~ A CLASSIC TREASURY (Harper Collins Children's Books HB) A beautiful gift for any story-loving child, and a book to treasure -- the Noddy Classic Treasury is a wonderful way to revisit Enid Blyton's much-loved original Noddy tales. A very special Noddy Treasury containing the first five of the classic Noddy stories as told by Enid Blyton and brought to life with Beek's famous illustrations. Rediscover the adventures of little Noddy as he goes to Toyland, builds his first house, makes friends with Big Ears and gets his famous little car! These enchanting stories include: Noddy Goes to Toyland Hurrah for Little Noddy Noddy and His Car Here Comes Noddy Again Well Done Noddy! All brought together for the first time in one magical collection. This is just what it says - a classic treasury of the first five Noddy stories with original illustrations by Van der Beek and a moving introduction from Enid's daughter, Gillian Baverstock. No one can fail to be fascinated by this wonderful volume, truly something to be treasured.

YOUNG CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE MONTH: CHRIS WORMELL: HENRY AND THE FOX (Red Fox PB)  Cockerels are usually bossy and self-important, but not Henry. Henry is a cowardly cockerel who won't even say 'poo!' to a piglet, and his crowing is awful. Luckily for Henry, little Buffy Bantam, his only friend in the whole wide world, has come up with a brilliant plan and with just a damp red sock and a red woolly jumper, the pair set out to convince the other hens that Henry is, in fact, a brave and fearless hero. But brilliant plans don't always go just the way they're supposed to...Will Henry manage to conquer his fears and save the day? Utterly charming - Wormell's illustrations are simply enchanting, and the simple story will delight young readers or those being read to by their parents.

CHILDREN'S FANTASY BOOK OF THE MONTH ~ STEPHEN R LAWHEAD: SCARLET (Book 2 of the King Raven Trilogy - Atom HB) From his gaol cell, outlaw Will Scatlocke waits to be hanged. Before he swings, Will - known to his friends as Scarlet - dictates his story to Odo, a duplicitous monk who has been given the job of recording his confession. Odo serves the ambitions of Abbot Hugo, who is gathering evidence that will lead to the capture of the men who have plagued the aristocracy and robbed the church of treasure. Hugo seeks the destruction of the elusive King Raven and his band, the Grellon. Driven from his home in the north of England, Will has trekked to Wales to join his fortunes with that of the man whose reputation is growing throughout Britain. A forester skilled with the longbow, Will is soon part of Bran ap Brychan's inner circle. In a failed attempt to kidnap sheriff Richard de Glanville, Will is captured. With rumours of conspiracy deepening at court, the humble prisoner becomes a vital link to the outlaws who abandoned him - and on whose loyalty their lives depend - and the throne of England.

CHRIS WORMELL: GEORGE, THE DRAGON AND THE PRINCESS (Jonathan Cape HB) Far, far away over the high, high mountains in an old castle wall, in a tiny, tiny hole there lives a little mouse called George. He's very small and rather timid and he can be a bit clumsy too. In fact, poor George is so hopeless that he can't even make lunch without burning his cheese on toast! But when a huge and terrifying dragon attacks the castle, George springs into action! Because as fans of George and the Dragon know only too well, George has a very special talent.

Teens' BOOK OF THE MONTH ~ GEMMA MALLEY: THE DECLARATION (Midas HB) Anna Covey is a 'surplus'. She should not have been born. In a society in which aging is no longer feared, and death is no longer an inevitability, children are an abomination. Like all surpluses, Anna is living in Grange Hall and learning how to make amends for the selfish act her parents committed in having her. She is quietly accepting of her fate until, one day, a new inmate arrives. Anna's life is thrown into chaos. But is she brave enough to believe this mysterious boy? This is a tense and utterly compelling story about a society behind a wall, and the way in which two young people take the chance of breaking free. A nightmare vision of a world in which children are unwanted and kept in Victorian-style workhouses. Chilling, and teenagers will lap it up.

C S LEWIS: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE (Harper Collins Children's Books HB) Beautiful hardback editions of the classic series with covers designed by award winning illustrator David Wiesner. The most loved of all the Chronicles, this wonderful tale can be enjoyed again and again. This is the land of Narnia, said the Faun, where we are now. And you -- you have come from the wild woods of the west? I -- I got in through the wardrobe in the spare room, said Lucy. Lucy steps into the Professor's wardrobe -- but steps out again into a snowy forest. She's stumbled upon the magical world of Narnia, land of unicorns, centaurs, fauns! and the wicked White Witch, who terrorises all. Lucy soon realises that Narnia, and in particular Aslan, the great Lion, needs her help if the country's creatures are ever going to be free again. Any excuse for a reissue of the Narnia books is welcome, and this one has the added bonus of a wonderful front cover by David Wiesner. Sumptuous.

Beth Webb: Fire Dreamer (Macmillan HB) Tegen, headstrong druid-in-training, has struck out alone but the world beyond her village is a dangerous place. The Roman invaders are tightening their grip on the land and the British tribes are warring instead of uniting. When Tegen meets a sensible young druid, he seems the perfect guide. But Owein's dark past is chasing him and he brings Tegen into the orbit of a deadly new enemy. The Shadow Walker and his raven-familiar covet her new found fire-magic and will stop at nothing to control the young Fire Dreamer's spiralling powers... Excellent story, just right for teens, they can identify easily with the young characters in this first-rate adventure story

Meg Cabot: Jinx (Macmillan HB) It wasn't just the power failure the night Jean Honeychurch was born that earned her the nickname Jinx: misfortune seems to follow her wherever she goes. Which is why she's been shipped off to New York to stay with relatives including her sophisticated cousin Tory until the trouble she's caused back in her small hometown dies down. Tory couldn't care less about Jinx until Jinx's chronic bad luck starts wreaking havoc in Tory's perfect world. Only then does Jinx learn that beneath Tory's big-city glamour lies a world of hatred and revenge. And now Jean's jinx could be the only thing that can save her life ..This is just superb! Meg Cabot writes as though she were a teenager herself - a wonderful take on the current witchcraft vogue, with a brilliant central character and a chilling story. Terrific.

F E Higgins: The Black Book of Secrets (Macmillan PB) Wonderful. Anyone looking for the next big thing has come to the right place. Higgins has created a uniquely grim fantasy world that more than holds its own with Dickens or Peake. Her characters are brilliantly realised and the story grabs at the reader with hooked talons - Eoin Colfer. When Ludlow Fitch's parents cruelly betray him, he steals away on the back of a carriage and leaves behind the stinking City. He arrives in the dead of night at a remote village, where he crosses paths with the tall and limping figure of Joe Zabbidou - a pawnbroker with a difference. For Joe trades secrets, not goods, for cash. Employed as Joe's assistant, Ludlow records the villagers' fiendish confessions in an ancient leather-bound volume: The Black Book of Secrets . There's the gravedigger who has been resurrecting bodies; the butcher who made a mouse-meat pie for his bullying father, with fatal consequences; the wizened bookseller who went to murderous lengths to get her hands on a priceless tome. Ludlow longs to trust his mysterious master, but he senses Joe has much to hide. But then Ludlow Fitch has his own, very dark, secrets ... A great cast of characters. Higgins knows his audience - this will appeal to youngsters hooked on spooks and magic,

Lian Hearn: Heaven's Net is Wide (Macmillan HB) Lord Shigeru, heir to the Otori clan, faces hostility from the shrewdly ambitious Iida family in the East and base treachery at home from his uncles. His noble education and training as a warrior have prepared him for leadership and combat, but fate and Shigeru's youthful determination bring the Three Countries to war, and he must endure terrible and tragic defeat at the battle of Yaegahara ...and its brutal consequences. Heaven's Net is Wide is the first and last tale, which both closes the circle and introduces new readers to the strange and beautiful world of the Otori. It is an epic historical fantasy of revenge and betrayal, honour and loyalty, beauty and passion and the overwhelming power of love.

Peter Yarrow & Lenny Lipton: Puff The Magic Dragon (Macmillan HB) Welcome to Honalee, an enchanted land of imagination and love. In this special place, you can share in the playful adventures of Jackie Paper and his childhood friend, Puff, the magic dragon. Peter Yarrow of the beloved musical group Peter, Paul and Mary and co-writer Lenny Lipton present their timeless song in an unforgettable children's book. Become lost in artist Eric Puybaret's remarkable illustrations that capture the magic of Honalee and its extraordinary inhabitants, then enjoy two vibrant new interpretations of the song plus two other tracks (Froggie Went A-Courtin' and The Blue Tail Fly ) in an exclusive CD. Peter, Paul & Mary's classic kids' song brought to life with beautiful paintings - a bonus CD is included with four songs, including Puff. Absolutely fabulous.

Lewis Carroll: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass (Macmillan Boxed set PB) Join Alice as she travels first to Wonderland and then through the looking-glass to an even stranger world. The stories of her surreal adventures and the bizarre characters she meets along the way from the White Rabbit to Tweedledum and Tweedledee are enduring classics, popular with children and adults alike. Now this gorgeous boxed set of full-colour paperbacks makes the perfect gift for a new generation of readers. Sumptuous, full-colour illustrations, this is probably the best version of Alice to be found at the present time, and very reasonably-priced, too. The colouring of the Tenniel illustrations is nothing short of superb. This is a set to treasure for ever.

Susan Cooper: The Dark is Rising Sequence (Bodley Head HB) Susan Cooper's brilliant and award-winning fantasy sequence - the fourth volume of which, The Grey King , won the Newbery Medal - is here published in a classic single volume. Dark is Rising Sequence includes Over Sea, Under Stone , The Dark is Rising , Greenwitch , The Grey King , and, Silver on the Tree. Susan Cooper is one of the best children's fantasists around. This beautiful volume contains the five Dark is Rising books in one. Terrific.

C S LEWIS: THE LAST BATTLE (Harper Collins Children's Books HB) Beautiful hardback editions of the classic series with covers designed by award winning illustrator David Wiesner. To my side, all true Narnians! Would you wait till your new masters have killed you all, one by one? It is Narnia's darkest hour. A false Aslan is commanding all Narnians to work for the cruel Calormenes and striking terror into every heart. King Tirian's only hope is to call Eustace and Jill back to Narnia in an attempt to find the true Aslan and restore peace to the land. But a mighty battle lies ahead. This is the seventh adventure in the exciting Chronicles of Narnia.

SHREK THE THIRD MOVIE STORYBOOK WITH ACTIVITIES (Harper Collins Children's Books HB) Join Shrek, Fiona, Puss and Donkey on another whirlwind adventure in Far Far Away in this movie tie-in story and activity book. Shrek, Donkey and Puss are leaving Far Far Away on a quest to find Fiona's cousin, Artie, but does Artie want to be found? And once Shrek returns, he has another change to adjust to -- he's going to be a daddy! Follow the friends on an adventure that will change their lives forever. This fun book is chock full of story fun, colouring in, games, puzzles and adventures with Shrek and the gang. Beautiful printing, lovely illustrations - Shrek lovers will love it

URSULA K. LeGUIN: POWERS (Harcourt [US} HB) Young Gav can remember the page of a book after seeing it once, and, inexplicably, he sometimes “remembers” things that are going to happen in the future. As a loyal slave, he must keep these powers secret, but when a terrible tragedy occurs, Gav, blinded by grief, flees the only world he has ever known. And in what becomes a treacherous journey for freedom, Gav’s greatest test of all is facing his powers so that he can come to understand himself and finally find a true home. This third book in the Annals of the Western Shore series is an epic story of survival and self-discovery that speaks to the power of new beginnings, and most importantly, of hope. Includes maps. Le Guin returns with a first-rate slave novel for teenagers. Terrific.

WALTER DEAN MYERS returns to the world of 145th Street: Short Stories to show how love can be found, and thrive, in the most unlikely places. Curtis finds love in Iraq as he struggles to stay alive in a war he doesn't want to fight, and Letha discovers her own beauty in the love of her child. There is the "good daughter" who realizes that there's only one way to help her brother and her family. Other stories center on the daily drama of the Curl-E-Que beauty shop, or capture the slapstick side of passion.





MIKE WILKS: MIRRORSCAPE (Egmont PB) Enter the Mirrorscape - an amazing world limited only by the artist's imagination... Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, Melkin Womper is apprenticed to a master painter, Ambrosius Blenk. Son of a village weaver, Mel is over-awed by the master's richly coloured and vividly detailed paintings. He is particularly amazed by the colours, because there are no colours back home. To have colour in your life, you have to buy the Pleasure, and the sinister scarlet-robed Fifth Mystery own the rights to such Pleasures. Soon, Mel and his new friends Ludo and Wren find themselves caught in a power struggle between the Mystery and the master. One that involves stepping through paintings into a world where the bizarre is commonplace and all logic is irrelevant. A world where angels, pyramid mazes, imaginary monsters, talking houses and - most importantly - the simple paintbrush all combine to form a hugely original and deeply compelling fantasy. This is a thrilling adventure filled with fantastical creatures in an incredibly visual secret world. Amazing fantasy world created by top-flight fantasy artist - it's great!

In relation to MIRRORSCAPE, I wanted to draw your attention to a comp that Egmont Press have launched in conjunction with the Telegraph to celebrate the publication of the novel this month in. If you go to, you'll find a link to: ‘Find the Snail for your chance to win £5,000’. Mike Wilks’ trademark is to include a snail in all of his paintings and so to celebrate the publication of his stunning debut fantasy adventure, Mirrorscape, Mike has hidden a snail in an exclusive version of the Map of Vlam which illustrates the setting of the novel. If you follow the Telegraph link, you will be taken to an online version of the map where you can use the zoom feature to navigate round the map to find the snail. In Mirrorscape, Melkin Womper, son of a village weaver, fulfils the dream of a lifetime and is apprenticed to a master painter, Ambrosius Blenk. In keeping with the story Egmont Press is launching this competition to help a young person fulfil one of their dreams for the future. Those who find the snail will automatically be entered into the prize draw to win £5,000 to be spent on Premium Bonds in the name of a child (or split between children) of their choice, or in your own name if you are 17 or under. All entries must be received by 5th November 2007. is now also live and features an utterly addictive game!

KAI MEYER: THE WATER WEAVERS (Egmont PB) The Water Weavers concludes the thrilling piratical adventure begun in The Wave Runners . The battle for the coral city of Aelenium has begun. Soledad, Walker and Buenaventure arm themselves with pistols and swords, ready for the armies of kobalins and cannibals set to overrun the city, while Griffin mounts a flying ray, to attack from the air. Meanwhile, Jolly and Munk - the polliwiggles destined to try to save the world - dive to the bottom of the ocean. They must travel to the Rift in the sea-bed to confront and defeat the evil force known as the Maelstrom. It is commanding the sea-monsters and the cannibals. Its goal? To destroy all humankind. There will be many battles, and many struggles - both inward and outward. And more than one transformation. Can Jolly and Munk work together after all they've been through? Who is the mysterious Aina, and will Munk see her for who she really is - before it's too late? Will the friends all survive this terrifying and exhausting war for the survival of their world? And what role do the enigmatic Water Weavers play? Be swept away by this breathtaking torrent of adventure! If you enjoyed the first two in the series, you'll love the finale.

Clarissa the Clown - Part of the Village Folk series by Andrew Segal (Ecademy Press PB) Another moving story from Andrew Segal about the dreams and wishes of a young circus performer, Clarissa, as she follows her star till her ambition is realised. Visually stunning, Clarissa the Clown is part of the Village Folk Series - an enchanting mix of humour, adventure and enlightenment. Appearing for the first time ever in a book, meet Mic and Mocha the tumbling mice twins. Marvel at the trapeze skills of the Gabbini Brothers and laugh with the colourful clowns, but always keep your faith in the dreams of tomorrow so you too can share in... Clarissa's joy. Beautifully illustrated, but it's let down by a spelling error (it's when it should be its). Also, some of the words might be a little difficult for the age group it's intended for (loath?) but on the whole very enjoyable, and will appeal to Mums and Dads as well as to their children.

CHRIS HUMPHREYS: VENDETTA (Knopf HB) Book I of the Runestone Saga ends with a terrifying reversal. The grandfather who showed Sky how to use the power of the runes to travel back in time, revealed his secret plans—which turn out to involve murder and possession. Sky must now find a way to fight his powerful teacher—for his cousin's very soul. And so he travels to Corsica, home of his other forbearers, hoping to find some knowledge, some power. The blood feud of vendetta still runs hot in Sky's family, as does the supernatural power of the MazzeriÑthe Corsican dream hunters of death. Sky must again travel back through time, inhabiting the life of Tza, a fierce girl from the 1500s. As he sinks into Tza's mind, Sky wonders if all of his ancestors murderers? Vendetta is a heady, exciting blend of supernatural possibility and historical truth that will leave readers gasping for the final installment of the trilogy.

RICHARD UHLIG: LAST DANCE AT THE FROSTY QUEEN (Knopf HB) On the dock of a lake in a tiny town at the corner of Nowhere & Nowhere, he sits counting the seconds until his high school graduation—at which point Arthur M. Flood intends to leave his hick life far behind in the brown Kansas dust. That's the plan. Until . . . up from the lake's muddy depths swims a girl. She's not a mermaid, but she is the one who shakes up Arty's life, makes him mad and mad for her, and helps him find a pathway to his past, his future, and where his heart truly lies. Teens will recognize their own emotional landscape in this steamy, funny, coming-of-age tale in which the heart tries to hide, only to be utterly exposed by love and lust, lost and found. Highly-charged coming-of-age, full of teen angst, lust and longing as Arty tries to make out with the elusive Vanessa. Full of fairly explicit sexual scenes, so keep it away from younger readers! Older teenagers will love it, as did I.

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