A Thing of Beauty: Arthur and the Golden Rope

arthur rope
Imagine a vault so cavernous that it could contain the world’s greatest treasures, from mummified remains of ancient monarchs to glistening swords brandished by legendary warriors. How did Professor Brownstone come into possession of such a collection?

Hear the tale of the very first Brownstone and his quest for the golden rope as we travel back to the land of the Vikings. A place filled with magical objects, powerful gods and legendary beasts to be conquered!

I am a bit of a fan-boy when it comes to Flying Eye Books and Nobrow and not just for the amazing stories they are publishing but for the frankly amazing care and attention to detail they put into creating books that are beautiful to look at as well as read.

Arthur and the Golden Rope continues in that vein, the cover is one that I spent several minutes admiring before opening it, the golden highlights of the title and on the strands of the rope glinted in the sun distracting me from the beast fading into the shadows of the background, it’s slavering jaws lit up by a burning brand held by the small figure, looking back at the reader as if unsure of what they were doing there.

Opening the book revealed still more treasures – maps on the endpapers, the first of Iceland showing Arthur’s town and the second showing Yggdrasil – the World Tree connecting Valhalla with Midgard and Helheim. The Æsir: Thor, Baldr, Freyja and Odin appear in the map corners of the front and the giant monsters Nidhoggr, Fenrir, Jotnar and Jormungandr appearing on the back.

The true treasure is the story itself, tied in with the wonderfully intricate illustrations with each page rewarding the reader that closely examines each wonderful work of art.

As you may have guessed this story is steeped in Norse lore and focuses on Arthur Brownstone the first adventurer of the famed and legendary Brownstone family and his quest to save his village.

Arthur is not your typical adventurer, looking like he would be more at home with his nose stuck in the pages of a book he is nevertheless an ardent explorer and brave beyond his years and size, living in a world replete with gods and monsters.

Professor Brownstone’s Mythical Collection would give Hogwarts a run for its money, brimming as it is with gods, monsters and all manner of marvellous artifacts.

Written and illustrated by the sickeningly talented Joe Todd-Stanton, Arthur and the Golden Rope straddles the line between picture book and graphic novel comfortably and will appeal to readers of all ages.

Arthur and the Golden Rope, the first book in Brownstone’s Mythical Collection is available from good book shops everywhere from September.

Andy McNab: the Street Soldier Interview

streetsoldierGood afternoon Mr McNab, welcome to the Teen Librarian site and thank you for giving up your time to answer a few questions!

Not a problem, I’m stuck at my desk doing the final edit to my new Nick Stone thriller, so this is a nice distraction!

I have been a fan of your work since I read Brave Two Zero way back in 1995 but am really behind with the Nick Stone novels.

Get reading then, you’ve got some catching up to do!

Are any parts of Street Soldier based on your experiences prior to and after joining the army?

Yes, quite a lot of this book is autobiographical, and as a result of that it’s a book that feels very personal to me. Like Sean, the main character, I got in with the wrong crowd as a teenager in London, ended up in prison and from there got into the army. Like him, that experience changed my life.

As an addendum to the previous question, are any of the characters based on people you know or knew?

Well, Sean is based in part on me I guess, although only the good bits. I’ve used bits of people i served with in the army for some of those characters, and also a few old mates i remember from my days getting into trouble in Peckham have influenced the characters who made up Sean’s ‘family’ of gang members before he got sent to prison.

andy-mcnabWithout giving out spoilers, some of Sean’s early decisions with his Corporal made me want to smack him upside the back of his head – are you aware of any such activities happening in the army?

There’s always going to be the danger of a few dodgy characters in any large group of similar people. The army is no different, they aren’t all angels, and they don’t all come from the easiest backgrounds, Sean included obviously. There is a big difference between wanting to make a few quid on the side and being part of something much worse, and the problem is that people might think they are doing the first of those things, when in fact they are involved in something much more dangerous, both to them and to others.

Street Soldier is the first book in a new series for teen readers, will it be a finite series or is it going to be open-ended?

Depends whether people like it, and whether Sean has more stories to tell. I’m already working on a follow up to this, so he isn’t going anywhere quite yet, but beyond that, you’ll have to wait and see.

Will any characters from your other works cross paths with Sean or is his universe self-contained?

That’s a great idea, it’s interesting to introduce characters where you don’t expect them. I haven’t done it yet from my adult books to the young adult ones, but if I do, I’ll bung you a credit at the beginning.

There were some threads left dangling at the end of Street Soldier can you drop any hints as to where will Sean end up next?

It’s a secret! If I told you I’d have to kill you. No, just joking, and it might all change, but all I can tell you at the moment is that he’s continuing with his army career for the foreseeable future and that the army will take him to new and exotic locations.

While reading the book I thought there were several similarities with the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz and CHERUB by Robert Muchamore but with a more realistic protagonist and lack of slick secret agent techniques and glamour. Can you recommend other books for readers who have enjoyed Street Soldier?

Yes, I hope my writing is more fact based and authentic than unrealistic spy stories. I’ve got nothing against those, they are all fantastic entertainment, but I guess that because of my background it wouldn’t work for me. I have done the gritty stuff, but not so much of the James Bond cocktails and fast cars. My highlight was a Peugeot 205 turbo when I was serving in Northern Ireland. Not quite the same as an Aston is it.

I am aware of your work with literacy charities, specifically Quick Reads and the Six Book Challenge, if you had one piece of advice on getting young people reading what would it be?

It doesn’t matter what you read, just get reading. If you don’t like it, bin it and pick something else up. Reading really can change your life, it did for me. It gives you knowledge and knowledge gives you power to make decisions and do what you want with your life.

I have heard that you sometimes visit schools and reading groups, if this is something you still do what is the best way to go about organising a visit?

Yes, I feel really passionate about getting out there and encouraging young people, and less young people, to make the most of education and opportunities being offered to them. Best way to organise something is through my publicist Laura. Her email is laura@laurasherlockpr.co.uk. Bet she’ll thank me for shouting her email address in an interview, ha!

Lastly can you describe Street Soldier in six word or less to grab a potential reader’s interest?

Offender turned soldier, Sean Harker, must protect the streets of London from a terrorist threat. Ok, bit more than 6 words, sorry.

Thank you again and all the best

No problem, thank you for the questions!

STREET SOLDIER, PUBLISHED BY DOUBLEDAY, IS AVAILABLE NOW!

Teen Librarian Monthly August 2016

Download (PDF, 1016KB)

But is it a Library?

looking at buildings, busses, boxes and burros

and asking the question what makes a library a library?

New Award to Recognise Significant Contribution to Scottish Children’s Literature

Scottish Book Trust is today (Wednesday 10 August) delighted to announce the creation of a brand new award intended to recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions to Scottish children’s literature.

The Significant Contribution to Scottish Children’s Literature Award, sponsored by Browns Books for Students, is a new honour that will be awarded annually to one author or illustrator and one learning professional who have had an inspiring impact on young readers in Scotland.

The author or illustrator will be an individual with a strong backlist, a long record of engaging with their audience and meaningful engagement within the writing community. The learning professional will be a teacher or librarian who is going above and beyond the call of duty to pass on the Reading for Pleasure message to the next generation and who works tirelessly to inspire children and young people to read and write.

Nominations will open on 31st August 2016 and the winners will be chosen by an independent panel of experts and announced at an evening reception in June 2017.

Commenting on the award, Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:

It is a simple statement of fact that the projects Scottish Book Trust runs for children would simply not exist without the passion of the teachers and librarians who consistently exceed their remit by embracing each and every reading campaign, award, tour, event and challenge with infectious enthusiasm, who research and download interminable resources, who put on the silly voices, who leap about until their students are as inspired and as passionate about books as they themselves are.
And, of course, there would be nothing to get the children excited about were it not for the outrageously talented and hardworking bunch of authors and illustrators that Scotland is lucky enough to lay claim to.
This award is intended to celebrate and recognise these people – the ones who bring the magic of books to children and set them on a path to being booklovers for life.

Nic Hales, Marketing Manager for Browns Books for Students added:

We at Browns Books for Students are very pleased to be working in conjunction with Scottish Book Trust to highlight such an important award, not only to schools within Scotland but also the wider community. We are very excited to find out who the winner of the award will be!

Poison City by Paul Crilley

The name’s Gideon Tau, but everyone just calls me London. I work for the Delphic Division, the occult investigative unit of the South African Police Service. My life revolves around two things – finding out who killed my daughter and imagining what I’m going to do to the bastard when I catch him.

I have two friends. The first is my boss, Armitage, a fifty-something DCI from Yorkshire who looks more like someone’s mother than a cop. Don’t let that fool you. The second is the dog, my magical spirit guide. He talks, he watches TV all day, and he’s a mean drunk.

Poison-City-by-Paul-Crilley-Crop

Naming a book after a strain of marijuana takes a serious set of stones! (or should I say stoners?)

Set in Durban, a grubby jewel on the East Coast of South Africa, Poison City is one the best urban fantasy novels I have read in ages! It joins a small yet growing pool of weird novels set in South Africa that are muscling in on the global fantasy stage.
Paul Crilley is obviously a fan of the city as he writes about it so well and only a person that has lived there can capture the atmosphere so accurately – he is a brilliant writer (even if he is a bit of a doos about Cape Town).

Look I am not sure why I am even trying to review this dirty, beautiful bastard of a book, when stars like Krysten Ritter give out such amazing quotes:
ritter poison city
Like many people I am a fan of Dog – Gideon Tau’s alcoholic, foul mouthed spirit guide “You forgot the sherry, dipshit” – seriously what is not to like?

By the way if you want to experience what the dog enjoys you can actually buy Sedgwick’s Old Brown sherry (sorry – fortified wine over here due to EU protected designation of origin status laws) at many of the fine South African stores around the UK. It is the perfect tipple for enjoying while you read!

Gideon is a tragic, seriously messed-up individual, with a gift for magic that may kill him if his self-destructive urges do not get that job done first but he has the misfortune to be a man who needs to do the right thing even if it is not necessarily a good thing!

Poison City is a fantasy crime novel soaked in the daily grind of South African life that can be a frustration for many as well as incorporating the mythology of Africa and beyond!

Seriously mythology, magic tattoos, monstrous angels, corruption and a threat of a war to wipe out humanity – there is something in this book for almost everyone!

Perfect for fans of Mike Carey, Lauren Beukes and Charlie Human!

poison city

#ChildrenofIcarus Blog Tour: If I could have a super power it would be…

Today I am fortunate to welcome author Caighlan Smith to Teen Librarian for today’s stop on the global blog tour for hew new novel Children of Icarus

Children of Icarus high res
If I could have a super power, it would probably be something boring and generic to everyone who hears the answer—that is, flight. But there are a bunch of reasons why this would backfire on me. First, is being able to fly really that practical in this day and age? Someone would see you, probably immediately, and before you know it you’d be snatched by a secret government organization dedicated to solving the super-charged mutations plaguing our DNA. Or the world would brand you a super hero and expectations would be at an all-time high. Either way, stressful. Plus, I have asthma. I get winded running uphill. Imagine what would happen when the air is literally being ripped from my lungs in a vicious current hundreds of feet above the ground. Taking all of that into account, maybe my power could be clean-bill-of-health, incognito flying?
Children of Icarus author pic_7 (1)
My new novel, Children of Icarus, features some flying characters, but I wouldn’t exactly call their flying a super power in this context. The novel’s protagonist is a sixteen year-old girl who is made to enter a labyrinth that will supposedly lead her to the land of the angels; to paradise. What she finds in the labyrinth is a far-sight from paradise, and soon the protagonist and a group of other youths find themselves struggling to survive. They don’t get any super powers—unless you count luck—but at least they aren’t asthmatic.

The Reading Olympics

I have been racking my brains lately for a reading event for the new school year and then it hit me, the Reading Olympics!

It will be a mix of reading stories based on Olympic sports, endurance reading and reading books of different genres for the triathlon and decathlon

I only have a skeleton of an idea at the moment so will be using this post to flesh it out as I go along. If anyone has an idea they would like to suggest – either books for olympic events or how to organise it please feel free to put it in the comments below. Everyone who puts an idea forward will be credited!

Events:

Athletics:

Reading 100 metres:
this will consist of Barrington Stoke titles as well as A&CB Wired Up books and books from the Franklin Watts Edge collection

Reading 1500:
The reader will have to complete a trilogy in a set amount of time

Hurdles:
The reader will have to read a section of a newspaper every day for a week

Triathlon:
The reader will have to read three books, each one has to be a different genre, e.g. Romance, Horror, Science Fiction
the reader may change one book but any more changes will cause the reader to lose points

Decathlon:
The reader will have to read 10 books, each one has to be form a different genre – a mix of fiction and non-fiction

Football:
Zombie XI by Pete Kalu
Death Match by Andy Croft
The Foul Play series by Tom Palmer
Girls FC by Helena Pielichaty
Keeper Mal Peet

Archery:
Longbow girl by Linda Davies
Robin Hood

Equestrian Events:
Heartland series by Lauren Brooke
Horses of Half Moon ranch by Jenny Oldfield
The Glory Lauren St John

Something magical is happening to mark the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone…

“I’ve got to go to the library!”
– Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry_Potter_exhibition_at_the_British Library Credit Tony Antoniou

The British Library is excited to announce a new exhibition about the magic of Harry Potter, set to open at the Library in autumn 2017, and marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The exhibition will open on 20 October 2017, and run until 28 February 2018.

From medieval descriptions of dragons and griffins, to the origins of the philosopher’s stone, the exhibition will take readers on a journey to the heart of the Harry Potter stories.

The exhibition will showcase an extraordinary range of wizarding books, manuscripts and objects, and combine centuries-old British Library treasures with original material from Bloomsbury’s and J.K. Rowling’s archives.

Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture and Learning at the British Library, said:

We at the British Library are thrilled to be working with J.K. Rowling and with Bloomsbury to mark the twentieth anniversary of Harry Potter, and to inspire fans with the magic of our own British Library collections.

More information about the exhibition will be released early in 2017, and tickets will be on sale from spring 2017 at www.bl.uk

Zombie XI a novel by Pete Kalu

zombiexi
The ghostly players from the winning 1966 England World Cup team tell Leonard that if he follows their instructions, not only will he get off the bench – but Dulcie High XI will start to take control. Leonard obeys, and the team’s prospects surge. But what is the price of the zombies’ involvement? How high will the price be – and what pound of living flesh will they demand?

I have to be honest – I am not really a fan of football, the British teams leave me cold and whenever anyone asks me which team I support, I usually say the Kaizer Chiefs (the band is named after them) and then say that I am usually a rugby man.

But a funny thing has happened – I picked up Zombie XI, mainly because it had the word ‘zombie’ in the title and if you say one thing about me say that I do enjoy a good horror story.

Needless to say this book was not totally what I expected – it drew me into wanting to find out more about football in a subtle way and I am still not totally sure how it happened, I know more about the 1966 team now – the nuggets of history scattered through the book made me pick up a football encyclopaedia to follow up what I read about the players.

There is a streak of humour that winds its way through the story, from a hypnotism assisted attempt to stop smoking to poking fun at some of the more dubious facets of the modern game; the scene where the coach took the team to drama class for acting lessons made me snort out loud! Leonard’s complicated relationship with his family throughout the novel is my favourite strand of the story, and one that most readers will be able to relate to.

The diverse cast and the interpersonal relationships between them including the friendships, rivalries and insecurities are delicately handled and will give readers insight into communities that they may have limited experience with.

Yes, Zombie XI is a football book (with zombies), but it is not about football – it is about the people and their love of the beautiful game and how it unites us.

Peter Kalu is a brilliant author – he got me to care about football, I now know more about the game than I have ever done before and the feeling is not going away!

Zombie XI is the fourth book in the Striker series published by Hope Road Publishers

This book contains: football, drama (acting), more drama (family & interpersonal), friendship, humour and zombies

Recommended for: readers of all ages who love sport, humour and a bit of zombie action