Tag Archives: MG

Guest Post – Writing Harper by Cerrie Burnell


I am so excited to have the wonderful Cerrie Burnell on Tales to celebrate the release of another brilliant book in the Harper series, Harper and the Night Circus!

Harper and the Night Circus is a middle grade adventure and was released on the 2nd March 2017 published by Scholastic UK and is gorgeously illustrated by the super talented Laura Ellen Anderson.

Other Harper adventures include….


 

 

 

 

 

 

So today I welcome Cerrie to the blog with a brilliant guest post all about Writing Harper.


Total fantasy bliss! Magical birds, dark forests and fairytale cities: there’s no better book to get lost in. Harper is on a mission! Rumours tell of the mysterious Ice Raven who lives among the ebony trees, singing a magical song that can melt hardened hearts. Now the Wild Conductor wants to capture this mythical bird and create the greatest orchestra ever known. So Harper and her friends set off to find the bird. Their journey takes them from the mysterious Night Forest to the City of Singing Clocks. But soon Harper realises she faces a dilemma. Should a wild, free creature like the Ice Raven ever be tied down?


Writing Harper

My Favourite Five Fun facts about Harper are

1.

When Harper arrived on the rooftop of the Tall Apartment Block, she came only with the Scarlet Umbrella and a note pinned to it by the feather of a dove.

2.

Midnight her cat arrived the very same night at the stroke of 12- the name seemed perfect! To this day no one knows where exactly Midnight came from.

3.

Until she was eight, Harper had no idea the Scarlet Umbrella could fly, as it was inside a bird in her Great Aunt Sassy’s bathroom.

4.

Nate is the first person Harper shares the umbrella’s magic with, he doesn’t doubt her for a moment and they become firm friends.

5.

Even though the Wild Conductor did a terrible thing in taking her cat, Harper forgives him as she can see he’s just a man trying to follow his dreams.

Harper and the Night Forest by Cerrie Burnell, illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson is published by Scholastic.
Available where all books are sold.

You can buy a copy of this book here

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Cerrie Burnell

Cerrie Burnell is a much-loved presenter on Cbeebies. She was named in the Observer’s top ten children’s presenters and also featured in the Guardian’s 2011 list of 100 most inspirational women where she received praise for tackling disability head on. Cerrie divides her time between London and Manchester. Her bestselling picture books Snowflakes and Mermaid, illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson, have won critical acclaim. Magical adventure Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella was her first novel for young readers.

You can follow Cerrie on twitter – @cerrieburnell

About Laura Ellen Anderson

When she’s not trying to take over the world or fighting sock-stealing monsters, Laura Ellen Anderson is a professional children’s book author & illustrator, with an increasing addiction to coffee. She spends every waking hour creating & drawing and would quite like to live on the Moon when humans finally make it possible. 

You can find out more about Laura on her website – lauraellenanderson.tumblr.com

Or why not follow Laura on twitter – @Lillustrator


Blog Tour

Why not follow or catch up on the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Cerrie for such a brilliant guest post and a bit more about Harper!  And to Faye Rogers for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read Harper and the Night Forest?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  Have you read any of the other Harper books?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Inspiration, Explorers and Exploring by Roland Chambers


Today I am hugely excited to have the wonderful Roland Chambers on Tales with a wonderful guest post!

Roland Chamber is the author of Nelly and the Flight of the Sky Lantern which was released on the 2nd February and previously Nelly and the Quest for Captain Peabody which was released in 2015 and are wonderful middle grade reads.  Both books are beautifully illustrated by Ella Okstad.


 

 

 

 

 

 

The books follow the epic adventures of explorer Nelly and her best friend and sidekick, a turtle called Columbus.

Nelly makes for a clever, tenacious and positive female protagonist.” – The School Librarian

Roland did some fascinating research into real-life female explorers for the books. Nelly becomes a balloonist in the latest book, which draws inspiration from the eighteenth-century ballooning pioneer Sophie Blanchard.

With this in mind, and the fact that it’s International woman’s day on the 8th March, we thought this would make a really fascinating blog post about inspiration and exploring and explorers……


One girl. One turtle. One epic voyage! If you like Pippi Longstocking, you’ll love Nelly Peabody.
When Nelly says she’s going to do a thing, she does it, whatever it is.
Learn to juggle china cups? Of course!
Live on lemons for a month? Why not?
Set out in a boat with knitted sails to find her long-lost father, with only her turtle Columbus for company? Absolutely!
And she won’t let anything get in her way . . .

Sometimes secrets are hidden in the most obvious places.
When Nelly returns home to discover that her mother has mysteriously disappeared, she vows to stop at nothing until she’s found her.
Climb to the tops of the clouds in a laundry basket? Why not? Dive to the depths of the ocean in an oversized tin can? Of course! Leave her turtle, Columbus, behind? CERTAINLY NOT! He’s her best friend, what an awful suggestion.
Together they will find the answers!
An original, quirky adventure story, beautifully written, packed with eccentric characters, and illustrated throughout in two colour. If you like Pippi Longstocking, you’ll love Nelly Peabody.


Inspiration, Explorers and Exploring

When my daughter Nelly was born I was the first person to make eye contact with her as she cartwheeled up into her mother’s arms. It was such an intense moment that I remember it in black and white, in freeze frames. That’s what it was like for me – electrifying, life-changing – but just imagine what it must have been like for her. The shock of it. The sudden freedom of movement. The cold air on her skin and this hairy giant goggling at her. This doting monster. The atmosphere of a new and strange planet filling her lungs.

When we think of explorers, we often think of men with snow-caked beards gripping ice-picks or hacking at tropical undergrowth, but actually we are all explorers from the moment we’re born. Some people don’t like to admit it. They live their lives as far as possible from the edge, making sure they know where everything is and what’s going to happen next, eating the same breakfast every day, taking the same route to work. But some people want to keep on busting out, and at least half of them are women, like my daughter Nelly, leaping from high furniture, conquering the BMX track, listening wide eyed to stories of Sophie Blanchard, who over two hundred years ago amazed the world by taking to the air beneath a hydrogen balloon in a basket no bigger than a rocking chair.

A little while ago I wrote a book about a fictional Nelly who sets off to find her missing father in a boat with knitted sails and only her pet turtle, Columbus, for company. Nelly sails half way round the world to discover the truant still in his pyjamas, gone native in a forest of his own planting, and along the way has so many adventures of her own she forgives him a little for his thoughtlessness. Then she comes home, only to discover her mother has vanished too, so off she goes again, this time in a hot air balloon, like the mighty Sophie Blanchard. She floats to the very edge of space, where it is impossible to breath, but before she finally solves the mystery, she has to dive to the bottom of the ocean too, because pinning down a mother is not an easy thing. A mother is a whole world.

Exploring is about returning to the beginning, to the astonishment of being born, which is why the Victorians were always hunting for the source of famous rivers, like the Nile or the Amazon. It’s about breaking new ground, but it’s also an act of self-discovery. A journey to the centre, into the great, dark interior, where all true things live. Or that’s what Nelly finds. She follows in the footsteps of women like Sacawega, who led the Lewis and Clark expedition into the Wild West, or the deep sea diver Sylvia Earl. She finds out where her mother is and in hunting her down, begins to understand her. She discovers her own source, the origin of Nelly, but not so completely that there will be no need of further adventures. Of course not! Because being born is one thing, but you wouldn’t want to leave it at that, would you? Not if you’re a real explorer. You’ll need to do it again and again until you’ve busted out completely, whatever that means, wherever that goes. Let your inner Nelly take you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy a copy of these books here or from your local bookshop


About Roland Chambers

Roland Chambers has had some adventures of his own. He’s been a pig farmer, a film maker, a journalist, a pastry chef, a cartoonist, a teacher, a private detective and an author. He’s also lived in a few different countries, including Scotland, Australia, Poland, America and Russia. Now he lives with a professor next to a cake shop in London. He owns two cats, two children and two guinea pigs. Roland is currently working with the charity First Story (http://www.firststory.co.uk/) as a writer-in-residence at Pimlico Academy.

You can find out more about Roland on his website – www.rolandchambers.com

About Ella Okstad

Ella Okstad was born in Trondheim, Norway in 1973. She graduated from Kent Institute of Art and Design with a BA Hons degree in illustration in 2000. She now lives and works in Trondheim, Norway.  She has illustrated a range of children’s books including the Squishy McFluff series (Faber & Faber). She illustrated the first Nelly adventure Nelly and the Quest for Captain Peabody and most recently Nelly and the Flight of the Sky Lantern.


A huge thank you to Roland for a fantastic post!  Also a huge big thank you to Hannah at OUP for asking me to host.

Have you read any of Nelly’s adventures?  Who are your favourite explorers?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Pavee and the Buffer Girl Mini Animation – Cave by Emma Shoard


I am hugely excited to share with you a third stunningly brilliant animated gif to celebrate the release of The Pavee and the Buffer Girl by Siobhan Dowd illustrated the absolutely talented Emma Shoard.

This beautiful illustrated book was released on the 2nd March 2017 published by the lovely people at Barrington Stokes and I simply cannot wait to get my hands on it!

This mini animation is simply just gorgeous so sit back, relax and find out more about The Pavee and the Buffer Girl….


Jim and his family have halted by Dundray and the education people have been round mouthing the law. In school the Traveller kids suffer at the hands of teachers and other pupils alike, called ‘tinker-stinkers’, ‘dirty gyps’ and worse. Then the punches start. The only friendly face is Kit, a settled girl who takes Jim under her wing and teaches him to read in the great cathedral chamber of the cave below the town. With Kit and the reading, Jim seems to have found a way to exist in Dundray, but everyday prejudice and a shocking act of violence see his life uprooted once again.


The Pavee and the Buffer Girl – Mini Animation – Cave

I decided a while ago that after I had finished the illustrations for The Pavee and the Buffer Girl and the drawings decided upon had gone off to print, that I would like to animate a few scenes from the book. I studied animation a little bit at University but this would largely be a new process for me and it was exciting to imagine what it might bring to the illustrations. It was a way for me to continue developing a project that I have loved working on since receiving the commission back in 2015.

With these animations I wanted it to create the idea that the world inhabited by Jim and Kit continues beyond the page by introducing small movements to an illustration or having a character move through it. The three scenes I have chosen – the third of which appears here today – are all from different points in the book and hopefully tell you a little about the characters and setting of the story.

Cave

With two characters side by side and both moving independently, this was the most challenging illustration to animate. The background is very simple, all of the focus is on them so I needed to give them as much detail as possible. I planned the timing for when Kit would look up at Jim and enjoyed drawing her expressions changing as Jim’s stay neutral focussing on the book. There is quite a lot going on even in the moments where I have tried to create stillness, but I quite like some of the slightly unexpected movements created by the looped drawings, such as the way Kit’s fingers move from the page of the book back to her knee. And the way that the shadows move reminds me of the flickering light of a sea cave.

You can buy a copy of this book here or from you local bookshop

You can find some other mini The Pavee and the Buffer Girl animations over on the following blogs:

YA Yeah Yeah – The Library

Book Lover Jo – Town


About Siobhan Dowd

Siobhan Dowd was a highly regarded author, winning the Branford Boase Award, the Bisto Award and, posthumously, the Carnegie Medal. She worked in human rights in the UK and America, particularly for writers’ organisation PEN. The Pavee and the Buffer Girl was her first story, followed by four remarkable novels written before her death at age 47 in 2007. Her legacy includes the Siobhan Dowd Trust, working to bring books to deprived children, and A Monster Calls , a novel adapted by Patrick Ness from one of her ideas.

You can find out more about Siobhan, her books and the Siobhan Dowd Trust on the website – www.siobhandowdtrust.com

Or why not follow on twitter – @sdowdtrust

About Emma Shoard

Emma Shoard is an illustrator and printmaker who graduated in 2011 from Kingston University’s Illustration & Animation course. She also works part-time as a bookseller. Emma lives in London on a barge on the Thames.

You can find out more about Emma on her website – www.emmashoard.co.uk

Or why not follow Emma on twitter – @EmmaShoard


A huge thank you to Emma for a fantastic post and gorgeous animation!  Also a huge big thank you to Nina at Barrington Stokes for asking me to host.

What did you think of the animation?  Are you tempted to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Adventures Behind The Night Spinner by Abi Elphinstone


In celebration of The Night Spinner, the last in the brilliant The Dreamsnatcher series, being release on the 23rd February 2017 I am so over the moon to be hosting another brilliant post from one of my favourite authors, Abi Elphinstone.

This trilogy has been phenomenal and has captured my heart and although I am sad to see it end I am also excited to see what Abi has in store for us next!

As well as all of this Abi Elphinstone is also #BritishBooksChallenge17 author of the month for February 2017!

Check out the #BritishBooksChallenge17 Spotlight on Abi and her books and find out why people are loving them – here

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

And that’s not all!

With thanks to the lovely people at Simon & Schuster I am also hosting a special giveaway on twitter to win a signed set of the trilogy in all it’s glory!

Abi is known for her many adventures, so what adventures are behind The Night Spinner?  Find out in today’s fab guest post!


About The Night Spinner

Moll Pecksniff and her friends are back for a new adventure as the thrilling trilogy that began with The Dreamsnatcher concludes.

In a ruined monastery in the northern wilderness, a Shadowmask called Wormhook sits in front of a spinning wheel. He is spinning a quilt of darkness known as the Veil. A masked figure then carries the Veil across the lands, slipping it through the windows of children’s bedrooms to poison their minds…

Meanwhile deep within Tanglefern Forest, Moll and her wildcat, Gryff, are waiting for a sign from the Old Magic before they continue their quest to find the last Amulet of Truth and free their world from the Shadowmasks’ terrible magic.
 
Still missing fellow Tribe member, Alfie, and armed only with a mysterious set of clues, Moll sets out on an adventure across the northern wilderness with Gryff and her friend Siddy at her side. They must brave the Lost Isles, scale the Barbed Peaks and face witches, goblins and giants who lurk at every turn . . . while the Shadowmasks draw ever closer.

Can Moll, Siddy and Gryff find the friend they think they have lost? And do the Tribe have what it takes to defeat the Dark magic once and for all?

Perfect for fans of J.K Rowling, Piers Torday and Eva Ibbotson.


The Adventures Behind The Night Spinner

I was lucky enough to grow up in the wilds of Scotland – a country of icy lochs, snow-capped mountains, rugged islands and sprawling moors – and when I sat down to write my third book, The Night Spinner, I thought back to the adventures I’d had as a twelve-year-old girl there: building dens in the woods; listening to stags roaring in the glens; watching golden eagles soar. And I knew that I wanted to take my characters to a land like this. The world in The Night Spinner is called the northern wilderness and adventures enjoyed up in Scotland, both as a child and more recently, coupled with a few other explorations slightly further afield, built the plot.

Re-discovering the world beyond The Blue Door

Out of all the wild places I explored as a child in Scotland, there is one that sticks out: a walk just north of a village called Edzell, a few miles from our house. After you leave the village, you cross an old stone bridge and then, on your left, there is a little blue door. You could miss it if you didn’t know it was there but my parents knew about it and they pushed it open. And what lay beyond could well have been Narnia. On the left, thundering through a steep gorge, the North Esk River browned by peat from the moors and on the right, above the gorge, a little path that wove alongside rhododendron bushes, silver birches, beech trees and a long-forgotten folly. The gorge opens up eventually, then the lochs, moors and mountains take over. When writing The Night Spinner, I walked through the Blue Door many times – to watch salmon leap from the river and to take notes inside the folly – and before long the North Esk river became The Clattering Gorge and my characters had found something extraordinary inside the folly there…

Quad-biking across the moors

To build The Rambling Moors in my book, I spent weeks walking through the Scottish glens. I heard stags bellowing, I watched coveys of grouse pour over the hills and I saw golden eagles circling the crags. I rented a quad bike one day so that I could cover more ground and as I tore across the heather, I imagined my characters fleeing the Shadowmasks across this same landscape and before long, my moors were teeming with mystical creatures: peatboggers, skeleton-stags and a goblin called Kittlerumpit (whose name I pinched from a Scottish retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairytale called Whuppity Stoorie).

Climbing Lochnagar in the Cairngorms

On Easter morning last year, I set out to climb Lochnagar with my husband – partly because I thought the name was fabulous and partly because I’d heard the view from Perseverance Wall up at the top was spectacular. During the first half of the climb the landscape was purpled by heather and green with juniper bushes. Further up though, the mountain was still locked in the icy grip of winter and it reminded me of how wild and inhospitable the Scottish mountains can be. I wanted a range of almost inaccessible mountains in The Night Spinner and so, after that climb I invented The Barbed Peaks and as I sketched them onto a fictional map for my book I drew a circle of deadly summits in their midst and called that The Stone Necklace.

Exploring Eilean Donan Castle

I’ve always loved the idea of writing about an enchanted castle. Perhaps that stemmed from living near Dunnottar Castle, a dramatic ruined fortress on the cliff top near Stonehaven, and my always believing that such a place was magical. Or maybe it was reading fairytales about maidens locked in towers and dragons lurking around castle walls. Whatever the reason, I booked a tour of the magnificently situated Eilean Donan Castle to spark ideas for my fictional castle. I pinched the location of this castle, perched on an outcrop of land in Loch Duich on the west coast of Scotland, for my book, and the items inside it – spinning wheels, cannon balls and beakers carved from the ivy that once clung to the castle ruins – set my mind reeling for magical motifs withing my story.

Swimming across Loch Duich

When I donned my wetsuit for this swim the sun was shining and I was anticipating a refreshing dip. But the clouds rolled over as soon as I reached for my first stroke and, despite it being July, it felt like I was swimming through a block of melted ice. Someone once told me that lochs are as deep as the mountains are high and as I saw across Loch Duich I remembered that – and gulped. I had no idea how deep Loch Duich was but I’d heard talk that Loch Morar, in Lochaber, was 310 metres deep. And glancing down, it felt easy to imagine monsters like Loch Ness lurking in the depths… Shortly after this swim, I wrote about a very, very deep loch at the foot of the Barbed Peaks, and I made it home to a mysterious monster.

Hiking through the Dolomites in Italy

I went to the Dolomites last Autumn because of tales from friends of staggering waterfalls, jagged peaks and World War One tunnels stretching the length of giant mountains. But once out there, I realised that I could borrow aspects of this incredible – and haunting – place for The Night Spinner. I saw mountain peaks bursting through the clouds and look-out posts on the precipices of cliffs, where Italian soldiers had watched Austrian troops advancing. And so, when writing about The Rookery, a forgotten monastery carved into the cliffs with turrets masked by the clouds, I drew on my hikes through the Dolomites.

Escaping The Labyrinth in Berlin

A few years ago, I went to Berlin to visit a friend for the weekend. She asked what I wanted to do and I said: ‘Something off the beaten track. Something weird that I can write about one day.’ And so she took me to The Labyrinth, an old warehouse in Friedrichshain converted into a maze of passageways made entirely of recycled materials. Outside the warehouse, I was given a coin by an organizer then I was blind-folded and led away from my friend. A few seconds later, I heard a door click shut and I realised I was alone, with no instructions as to what to do next. I took off my blindfold to find I was in phone box but everything was dark outside it. There was a small TV screen in front of me depicting a man placing a coin into a slot. I stared at him, bemused, then remembered the coin in my own palm and noticed there was a slot in front of me. I pressed it in. A moment later, the front of the phone box fell down and I was inside the labyrinth – a dark maze with stairs leading up to giant mirrors and passageways lined with skulls and sculptures of crooked hands. I ran through the corridors, trying to find a way out, but ended up stumbling through a trap door and landing on a mattress inside what appeared to be a giant egg with seven passageways leading off from it. I choose one and realised, half way down it, that it was shrinking in size and before long I wouldn’t be able to keep going. I backed away and tried another passageway then another, occasionally stumbling across other people desperately trying to find their way out (to this day, I have no idea whether those people were actors or punters in a similar position to me…). I blundered on until eventually I burst out of a door into the sunlight. My friend followed an hour later. ‘Did you see the white room with bizarre instruments?’ she said. ‘And the pitch-black tower ringing with echoes? I spent ages sitting in there; it was amazing.’ ‘No,’ I replied. ‘I didn’t see any of that. I was trying my best to escape.’ And as we chatted to the organisers we realised that the labrynith was, in fact, a psychological experiment – it tested whether, in the face of strange and unsettling experiences, you fled or slowed down to enjoy them. I fled, as if the Shadowmasks themselves were on my heels… But I’ve always remembered that labyrinth and in The Night Spinner, I created my own one beneath Whuppity Cairns, a collection of stones on top of Rambling Moors.

You can buy a copy of The Night Spinner here or from your local bookshop!


About Abi Elphinstone

Abi Elphinstone grew up in Scotland where she spent most of her childhood building dens, hiding in tree houses and running wild across highland glens. After being coaxed out of her tree house, she studied English at Bristol University and then worked as a teacher. THE DREAMSNATCHER was her debut novel for 8-12 years and is followed by THE SHADOW KEEPER.  This year marks the release of the final book in the trilogy THE NIGHT SPINNER!

When she’s not writing, Abi volunteers for Beanstalk, teaches creative writing workshops in schools and travels the world looking for her next story. Her latest adventure involved living with the Kazakh Eagle Hunters in Mongolia…

Twitter: @moontrug

Instagram: @moontrugger

www.abielphinstone.com


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Simon & Schuster I am also hosting a special giveaway on twitter to win a signed set of the trilogy in all it’s glory!


A huge thank you to Abi Elphinstone and Hannah at Simon & Schuster for such a fab post and for organising, embracing the #BritishBooksChallenge17, providing a copies of The Dreamsnatcher Trilogy to giveaway!

You can catch previous blog posts by Abi on Tales by clicking on the below links.

Spotlight – Author Of The Month – Abi Elphinstone

The Research Behind The Dreamsnatcher

Top 10 Shadowkeeper Songs

Review – The Dreamsnatcher

Corey’s Corner Review – The Dreamsnatcher

And remember if you read, review and link up any of Abi’s books for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entries into the February Prize Pack Draw!

Have you read The Night Spinner?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Inspiration For Molly & Pim by Martine Murray


To celebrate the paperback release of Molly and Pim and the Millions Of Stars by Martine Murray I am super excited to be sharing a guest post about the inspiration behind Molly and Pim today here on Tales.

Molly and Pim and the Millions Of Stars was initially released in hardback on the 17th January 2017 and from the 23rd February 2017 will be available in paperback.

Martine Murray’s new illustrated middle-grade novel Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars is a whimsical story about friendship and individuality and learning to see the freshness and wonder in the world.

A story about mothers and daughters and magical trees Molly and Pim and the Millions Of Stars is a magical tale about the individuality in everyone and is perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell’s Rooftoppers and author Rebecca Stead calls “an utter delight.” 

So read all about the inspiration in this fab guest post ….. 


Molly’s mother is not like other mothers: she rides a yellow bike and collects herbs and makes potions, perhaps even magical potions…

Molly wants to be normal, like her friend Ellen, and watch television and eat food that comes in packets. But when Molly’s mother accidentally turns herself into a tree, Molly turns to the strange and wonderful Pim for help. And as they look for a way to rescue her mother, Molly discovers how to be happy with the oddness in her life.


Inspiration For Molly & Pim

This seed for this story was sewn when, one fine day, I was digging a big hole in my garden to plant a mulberry tree. Into the hole clambered my young daughter. I pretended to plant her, heaping the dirt in around her feet and warning her that she would soon grow into a tree and bear lots of little fruity versions of herself on the branches. She didn’t grow into a tree as she preferred to climb out of the hole and do something a little less static, but as a result of that I wrote a very short story about a woman who accidentally plants her daughter instead of a tree. When I was casting around in my mind for an idea for a novel, I wondered instead what it would be if this was reversed and the mother became the tree. This made more sense for a novel, rather than a fable, as I was drawn to the idea of a child being “parented” by a tree or more specifically the image of a tree as sort of a mother with a child living in its branches, off its fruit and via its shelter. In a time when the environment is in jeopardy, this image arrived with a poignancy that seemed worth exploring.

Also in these times, when children’s experience of nature can be minimal or at the least very mediated and when imaginative play in the outdoors is not often encouraged or is replaced by screen time, I wanted to show a child, Molly, whose life depends on her establishing a real and vital connection with, in this case, a tree, but also with plants. In this story the mother accidentally transforms herself into a tree but as a tree, continues to mother Molly by providing shelter, shade, food and support. Molly, has to recall her mother’s knowledge of plants to try and use them to find solutions to the challenges that befall her along the way. Interspersed through out the story are pages from Molly’s notes about common plants and weeds and their historical or medicinal uses.

Many other themes develop as the story unfolds, themes particularly connected to the challenge of self -acceptance, the acceptance of difference and how all this is negotiated within the complex requirements and gifts of friendship. While the central problem of the story, the problem of Molly’s mother being a tree, speaks to the deeper mystery of our connection to nature, whether mystical, vital, sacred or lost, it also pays tribute to what is natural and universal, the cycles of change, challenge, growth, and transformation within self and in relation to others.

So the magic in this story is not of the elf sort, but is more the sort of magic that is born out of the deeper mysteries of the natural world and our connection to it. That mystery is felt as poetic and integral and engagement with it, whether imaginatively or practically, connects Molly and Pim to something greater than themselves.

You can buy a copy of Molly and Pim and the Millions Of Stars here or from your local bookshop


About Martine Murray

Martine Murray writes and illustrates picture books, middle-grade fiction and young adult fiction, including The Slightly True Story of Cedar B Hartley, The Slightly Bruised Glory of Cedar B Hartley and How to Make a Bird. Her books have been published internationally and translated into seventeen languages. She was born in Melbourne and currently lives in Castlemaine in Victoria.

You can find out more about Martine on her website – www.martinemurray.com


A huge thank you to the wonderful Martine Murray for such a fab post and insight into the inspiration behind Molly and Pim!

Also a huge thank you to Rebecca Watson for contacting me and organising this post.

Have you read Molly and Pim?  What did you think?  Where do you take your inspiration from?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – My Writing Process – First Draft to Final Copy by Ally Kennen


I’m over the moon to have been asked to take part in this fab blog tour for a brilliant new middle grade book, The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen.

The Everything Machine was released on the 2nd February 2017 published by Scholastic and tells the story of three kids let loose with a top-secret magical machine with a mind of it’s own!  It sounds like so much fun!

So for my stop on the tour we are delving into the writing process of the books author Ally Kennan…..


Three kids let loose with a top-secret magical machine with a mind of it’s own . . . What could possibly go wrong?

Olly, Stevie and Bird have just had a very special delivery. It’s a machine that has a name, can speak and is able to print ANYTHING they want it to. How about a never-ending supply of sweets and a cool swimming pool in the shed, for starters?

But is getting everything you’ve ever wished for all it’s cracked up to be?


My Writing Process – First Draft To Final Copy

A book begins with a vague idea, usually something that has been badgering me for years, weeks, days or hours. This idea grows and grows and becomes the thing that keeps me awake.

I always write the first draft in a state of fear and denial. Fear that I don’t know what I’m doing and denial that anything I write now will end up being in the book anyway. This is quite freeing.

It’s not very fashionable for women to talk about how their children affect their work, and one can feel a bit sneered at, but by God! My children affect mine!  I haven’t got much time to write because I have 4 children, aged from twelve years down to one year and they are always more noisy and interesting than any book I am writing.

Therefore, when I get a writing window, I go hell for leather. My earlier YA books, BEAST, BERSERK and BEDLAM, QUARRY were all written when I was pregnant  and/or had 2 or 3 young children at home. These books have all been described as fast-paced, which I always find funny. I have to crack on with the action before I have to make dinner or wipe up the sick! Maybe when my children are all grown-ups I will write glorious, ponderous prose. With faultless grammar and leavened with multi-metaphors and clever word play.

Not now though!

So I crack on with a first draft, letting the whole thing gallop along. The superb author Mimi Thebo told me to ‘let the wild horses run.’ And so I do. I let them run and run and run until they lie exhausted in a ditch, unable to even snort. This first draft is usually quite quick. Though It wasn’t like this for my latest book, THE EVERYTHING MACHINE, because I had a baby in the middle of it and everything, all the horses, stopped for about six months.

After the first draft the real work begins. The first draft kills off the red herrings, the dead ends, the cliches… It is where embryonic characters form. Where deeper, richer ideas grow…

And the second draft cuts cuts cuts cuts loads from the first draft. It is a bloody massacre. Only the good bits remain. Lots and lots more writing is done, and now, I think a little bit more about the rhythm of the sentences. The landscapes and journeys, the time lapses, the development of the characters. The sewing together. This is when  (hopefully) the magic part of writing happens. I have my rough work, now I can deep-think it, and try and make it much, much better.

The third draft is less butchery, more a gentle slapping, and do I Like these people I have created and are they interesting at all? and does the thing really work? And what am I trying to say here? After this draft I usually make someone read it (husband) or I make someone listen (my children)

I get that awful thing, Feedback.

This is always useful. No matter how horrific.

Then I go back and make more alterations and sprinkle some fairy dust and send it to my editor and hope I don’t get sacked.

I am not brave enough to send rough work to an editor.  I don’t want them to see the vulgar depths of my abilities… I like it to be as good as possible. I’d rather send the polished diamond than the rough one.

Then there is the to ing and fro ing with the editor, the sharpening and the cuttings and the pulling the whole thing together. It sounds worthy but I do believe in the team work aspect of book writing.  I need an editor! I need help! always!

After the edits come the copy edits, then reading the proofs, then BAM, there’s the book.

It’s a pretty good feeling.

You can buy a copy of The Everything Machine here or from your local bookshop!

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Ally Kennen

Ally Kennen has been an archaeologist, museum guard and singer-songwriter. Her dark and thrilling teen novels have been nominated for over eleven literary awards. She lives in Somerset with her husband and four children.

You can find out more about Ally on her website – www.allykennen.blogspot.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @allykennen


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!

Monday 13th February

Fiction Fascination

Bookish Outsider

Tuesday 14th February

Girl Vs Books

Book Lover Jo

Wednesday 15th February

Live Otherwise

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

Thursday 16th February

MG Strikes Back

Alejandra’s Life

Friday 17th February

Library Girl and Book Boy

Luna’s Little Library

Saturday 18th February

Big Book Little Book

Mum Friendly

Sunday 19th February

Tales of Yesterday

Powered by Reading


A huge thank you to the wonderful Ally Kennen for such a fab post and insight into her writing process!
Also a huge thank you to Faye Rogers for organising and having me as part of this fab blog tour as well as the wonderful people at Scholastic.

Have you read The Everything Machine?  What did you think?  What does your writing process look like?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Tales Quiz – Which Character From Who Let The Gods Out by Maz Evans Are You?


Who Let The Gods Out is currently sitting very high on my February TBR and from what I have heard already I’m in for a huge treat!  Maz Evans is super funny and I’m sure that her debut is going to make me smile from ear to ear.

Who Let The Gods Out? was released on the 2nd February 2017 published by the awesome Chicken House and is set to be a runaway success!

And it’s our #BritishBooksChallenge17 Debut Of The Month!

You can find out why people are loving Who Let The Gods Out here

So I teamed up with the wonderful Maz Evans and today we are asking….

Which Character From Who Let The Gods Out Are You?

And remember if you read, review and link up Who Let The Gods Out? for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entry into the February Prize Pack Draw!

Also do check out an awesome giveaway on twitter!


Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?

You can buy a copy of Who Let The Gods Out here or from you local bookshop


Which character from Who Let The Gods Out are you most like? 

Take the quiz to find out and share your results with us on twitter or leave a comment.

If you cannot see the quiz below click here and scroll down


About Maz Evans

Maz’s writing career began in journalism as a TV critic and feature writer. She has written for many national titles and is a regular pundit on The Jeremy Vine Show. After working as a creative writing lecturer, she founded Story Stew, an anarchic creative writing programme that has visited primary schools and literary festivals around the UK, including Hay and Imagine. Maz lives in London with her husband and four children.

You can find out more about Maz on her website – www.maz.world

Or why not follow her on twitter – @MaryAliceEvans


Giveaway

With thanks to Chicken House I am also hosting a special giveaway on twitter to win 1 of 5 copies of Who Let The Gods Out here!


A huge thank you to Maz for playing along and helping to create this quiz!  And to Nina Douglas and Jazz at Chicken House for organising and the fab giveaway!

Have you read Who Let The Gods Out?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – Debut Of The Month – Who Let The Gods Out? by Maz Evans


I am so excited to have announced on February 1st that the super awesome Maz Evans is our #BritishBooksChallenge17 Debut Of The Month for February 17 with her debut Who Let The Gods Out?!

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

Who Let The Gods Out? was released on the 2nd Febraury 2017 published by the awesome Chicken House and is set to be a runaway success!

Who Let The Gods Out is currently sitting very high on my February TBR and from what I have heard already I’m in for a huge treat!  Maz Evans is super funny and I’m sure that her debut is going to make me smile from ear to ear.

I’m super excited to be shining the spotlight on Maz and Who Let The Gods Out today along with some love for Who Let The Gods Out from some lovely people.

And remember if you read, review and link up Who Let The Gods Out? for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entry into the February Prize Pack Draw!

Look out for a special Who Let The Gods Out post from Maz this February…..and there may even be a giveaway!


About Maz Evans

Maz’s writing career began in journalism as a TV critic and feature writer. She has written for many national titles and is a regular pundit on The Jeremy Vine Show. After working as a creative writing lecturer, she founded Story Stew, an anarchic creative writing programme that has visited primary schools and literary festivals around the UK, including Hay and Imagine. Maz lives in London with her husband and four children.

You can find out more about Maz on her website – www.maz.world

Or why not follow her on twitter – @MaryAliceEvans


About Who Let The Gods Out?

Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?

You can buy a copy of Who Let The Gods Out here or from you local bookshop


Praise for Who Let The Gods Out?

I managed to catch some quotes from some lovely people about Who Let The Gods Out….


A huge thank you to the lovely Who Let The Gods out fan’s that provided me with quotes for this post.  Who Let The Gods Out comes highly recommend as our Debut Of The Month!

Look out for a special Who Let The Gods Out post from Maz this February…..and there may even be a giveaway!

And remember if you read, review and link up Who Let The Gods Out? for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entry into the February Prize Pack Draw!

Have you read Who Let The Gods Out?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Interview With The Pet Defenders by Gareth P Jones


It’s no secret that my son and I are HUGE fans of Gareth’s books.  We always read them with a huge smile on our faces and Gareth’s new series, Pet Defenders does just that!

I am over the moon to have been asked by the lovely people at Stripes Publishing / Little Tiger Press to be part of the blog tour for this super funny book which is released on the 9th February 2017.

Illustrated by the super talented brilliant Steve May, Pet Defenders of the Earth follows Mitzy and Biskit and it is their job to save the world from alien invasions – just so long as they can stop fighting like cat and dog for long enough to do it! Beth at Stripes Publishing describes it as The Secret Life of Pets meets The X Files!

Biskit works alone. So when the unruly Pet Defenders dog agent is teamed up with Mitzy – a rookie and, even worse, a cat – he’s not happy. Can Biskit put his ego aside and work with Mitzy to save the world from an alien attack of terrifying proportions? When the humunga-dunga beetle rolls into town, the dynamic duo are going to need all their skills to stop the creature from laying waste to the world as they know it…

So for todays guest post I have come across a transcript of an interview conducted in February 2017 in an unknown location…..


The Pet Defenders Code: 1. The safety of Planet Earth depends on you. 2. Humans MUST NOT know the truth. GOOD LUCK – you’ll need it…

From Gareth P. Jones, winner of the Blue Peter Award and author of successful young series fiction, including NINA MEERKATS, comes a brand-new comic caper. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS meets THE X FILES – Pet Defenders are secret agents with a difference.

It’s up to Mitzy and Biskit to save the world from alien invasions – just so long as they can stop fighting like cat and dog for long enough to do it!

Secret agent Biskit is not happy when he discovers his new partner Mitzy is a cat – everyone knows that cats and dogs don’t mix. But saving the earth from alien invasions must come first and the planet is under attack! A cluster of cow pats has flown into town and they’re whipping up a stink… It’s time for Biskit and Mitzy to put aside their differences and kick some alien butt!

For fans of funny and action-packed animal adventures including Andrew Cope’s Spy Dog series, Astrosaurs and Jeremy Strong.


Interview with the Pet Defenders

Transcript of Interview conducted February 2017

Location unknown

To celebrate the publication of Pet Defenders: Attack of the Alien Dung, (Stripes) award-winning author Gareth P Jones secured an exclusive interview with the book’s protagonists (a dog called Biskit, and a cat called Mitzy). For security reasons, Gareth was blindfolded then brought to a secret location. As the blindfold was removed he observed he was in some kind of windowless room. A single bulb hung from the ceiling. In front of him stood a scruffy brown mongrel and a tabby cat with white paws and a white smudge on her nose. Looking up he noticed a seagull perched above his head.

GPJ:                 Oh, hello. Biskit and Mitzy, isn’t it?

Biskit:              How do you know that? How does he know that?

Mitzy:              I’ve no idea but it’s not good. We should get the bird to drop the Forget-Me-Plop and wipe his memory now.

GPJ:                 What? No…. Hey, I can understand what you’re saying. How is that possible?

Mitzy:              The room is coated with Universal Translation Paint. It is translating Biskit’s barks and my meows into a language you understand. It’s one of Example’s inventions.

GPJ:                 You mean Example One, the super intelligent lab mouse who heads up the Nothington Extra-terrestrial Research Division team, NERD for short?

Biskit:             How do you know all this? No one is supposed to know any of this.

GPJ:                 Yes but I’m your author.

Biskit:              What are you talking about?

GPJ:                 I created the series. I came up with the idea of a secret organization of pets keeping the planet safe from alien attack while us humans are totally oblivious. It’s fun, right?

Mitzy:              Fun? You think our job sounds fun?

GPJ:                 Well, yes, look… this isn’t going as I planned. I wanted to do a light-hearted interview for Chelle’s book blog, Tales of Yesterday.

Biskit:              Who’s Chelle? What is she doing with lots of tails?

Mitzy:              We should probably wipe her memory too? I’ll send a seagull.

GPJ:                 No, please don’t wipe her memory. She’s a blogger.

Mitzy:              What’s a blogger?

Biskit:              Probably some kind of alien from the planet Blog, come to Earth to enslave humans.

GPJ:                 What? No. That’s not it. It means she writes stuff on her website… Look, it doesn’t matter. Can’t we just do this normally? I’ll ask you questions and you answer them.

Biskit:              Sorry mate. We ask the questions.

Mitzy:              Hm, maybe we should let him, Biskit. That way we can find out how much he knows.

 Biskit:              That makes sense. Go ahead, ask your questions Mr Author man.

GPJ:                 Oh. Thanks. Any chance you can untie me?

Biskit growls

GPJ:                 No? Fair enough. So Pet Defenders, what’s the scariest alien you’ve ever fought?

Mitzy:              Sorry. That’s classified.

GPJ:                 OK. Then how many aliens have you encountered?

Mitzy:              Yeah, that’s classified too.

GPJ:                 Er…. What’s your favourite colour?

Mitzy:              We can’t tell you that.

GPJ:                 This is ridiculous. You haven’t told me a single thing and I created you. You should show me more respect.

Biskit:              Respect? Why should we respect you?

GPJ:                 Because, um, er… Oh, I’ve got it. Because I haven’t written the fourth book yet. I could make your lives pretty uncomfortable.

Mitzy:              You could if you were able to remember any of this.

Biskit:              Yeah, see you round Mr Author.

GPJ:                 No. Wait! Please….

SPLAT!

Transcript ends.

Pet Defenders: Attack of the Alien Dung is published 9th of February. The second book in the series, Beards from Outer Space comes out in May, with the third (Escape from Planet Bogey) being published in September.

Gareth P Jones has no memory of the above conversation.

You can buy a copy of this book here or from your local bookshop

About Gareth P Jones

Gareth P. Jones is the author of many books for children, including the NINJA MEERKATS series, and THE CONSIDINE CURSE, for which he won the Blue Peter Book of the Year 2012 award. He also works as a producer of TV documentaries. He lives in Forest Hill, south east London, with his wife and children.

To find out more about Gareth visit his website – www.garethwrites.co.uk

Or why not follow Gareth on twitter – @jonesgarethp

About Steve May

Steve May is an illustrator and animator based in north London. He was born in sunny Hastings and has an MA in Animation from the Royal College of Art. As an illustrator he has produced work for a variety of clients including Puffin and Faber.

To find out more about Steve May visit –  www.stevemay.biz


A huge thank you to Gareth for such a fab guest post and to Beth at Stripes Publishing for asking me to take part and for organising.

You can find some previous posts with Gareth P Jones on Tales using the following links –

Q&A with Gareth P Jones

Which Character From The Thornthwaite Betrayal Are You?

Adventures Of The Steampunk Pirates:  The Leaky Battery Sets Sail

Pet Defenders:  Attack Of The Alien Dung! Cover Reveal

Have you read Pet Defenders:  Attack Of The Alien Dung!?  Are you intrigued? Have you read any of Gareth’s other books?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading

Spotlight – Author Of The Month – Abi Elphinstone


I am so excited to have announced yesterday that the brilliant Abi Elphinstone is our #BritishBooksChallenge17 Author Of The Month for February 17!

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

I am a huge HUGE fan of Abi and her books full of fun filled adventure.  With a trilogy not to be missed that all started with The Dreamsnatcher and a brilliant short story collection Abi is a brilliant UK Middle Grade talent and I am so excited to shine the spotlight on her and her wonderful books as Author Of The Month!

And remember if you read, review and link up any of Abi’s books for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entries into the February Prize Pack Draw!

Look out for a super guest post from Abi this February also with a fab giveaway!


About Abi Elphinstone

Abi Elphinstone grew up in Scotland where she spent most of her childhood building dens, hiding in tree houses and running wild across highland glens. After being coaxed out of her tree house, she studied English at Bristol University and then worked as a teacher. THE DREAMSNATCHER was her debut novel for 8-12 years and is followed by THE SHADOW KEEPER.  This year marks the release of the final book in the trilogy THE NIGHT SPINNER!

When she’s not writing, Abi volunteers for Beanstalk, teaches creative writing workshops in schools and travels the world looking for her next story. Her latest adventure involved living with the Kazakh Eagle Hunters in Mongolia…

Twitter: @moontrug

Instagram: @moontrugger

www.abielphinstone.com


The Books and Why We Love Abi Elphinstone

Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare – the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life.

Because Moll is more important than she knows… The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure.

Perfect for fans of J.K. Rowling, Michelle Harrison and Eva Ibbotson.

You can find my review of The Dreamsnatcher here

Moll Pecksniff and her friends are living as outlaws in a secret cave by the sea, desperate to stay hidden from the Shadowmasks. But further along the coast lies the Amulet of Truth, the only thing powerful enough to force the Shadowmasks back and contain their dark magic. So, together with Gryff, the wildcat that’s always by her side, and her best friends Alfie and Sid, Moll must sneak past smugglers, outwit mer creatures and crack secret codes to save the Old Magic. With more at stake than ever before and the dark magic rising fast, can Moll and her friends stop the Shadowmasks before it’s too late?

In a ruined monastery in the northern wilderness, a Shadowmask called Wormhook sits in front of a spinning wheel. He is spinning a quilt of darkness known as the Veil. A masked figure then carries the Veil across the lands, slipping it through the windows of children’s bedrooms to poison their minds…

Meanwhile deep within Tanglefern Forest, Moll and her wildcat, Gryff, are waiting for a sign from the Old Magic before they continue their quest to find the last Amulet of Truth and free their world from the Shadowmasks’ terrible magic.
 
Still missing fellow Tribe member, Alfie, and armed only with a mysterious set of clues, Moll sets out on an adventure across the northern wilderness with Gryff and her friend Siddy at her side. They must brave the Lost Isles, scale the Barbed Peaks and face witches, goblins and giants who lurk at every turn . . . while the Shadowmasks draw ever closer.
 
Can Moll, Siddy and Gryff find the friend they think they have lost? And do the Tribe have what it takes to defeat the Dark magic once and for all?

A beautiful and classic anthology of frosty, magical short stories from acclaimed children’s writers such as Michelle Magorian, Berlie Doherty, Lauren St John and Katherine Woodfine, and edited by author Abi Elphinstone.

Dreamsnatcher’s Abi Elphinstone heads up this gorgeous collection of wintery stories, featuring snow queens, frost fairs, snow dragons and pied pipers . . . from classic children’s writers such as Michelle Magorian, Geraldine McCaughrean, Jamila Gavin, Berlie Doherty, Katherine Woodfine, Piers Torday, Lauren St John, Amy Alward, Michelle Harrison and Emma Carroll.

An unmissable, enchanting treat of a collection that will be enjoyed for years to come, by readers of all ages.

You can buy any of Abi Elphinston’s books here or from your local book shop!


A huge thank you to the lovely Abi Elphinstone fan’s that provided me with quotes for this post.  I highly recommend all of these books from our February Author Of The Month!

Look out for a super guest post from Abi this February also with a fab giveaway!

And remember if you read, review and link up any of Abi’s books for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entries into the February Prize Pack Draw!

Are you an Abi Elphinstone Fan?  Do you have a favourite book?  Are you new to Abi Elphinstone?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...