Friday 28 May 2021

The Nightsilver Promise by Annaliese Avery


Link to publisher

Published by Scholastic, May 2021


The best thing about May has definitely been the brilliant books that have been released into the world (because let's face it, it hasn't been the weather) and no one was more excited than me when the postman dropped this much awaited middle-grade debut on my doormat at the beginning of the month. 

Written by Golden Egg Academy member, Annaliese Avery, this is a much-anticipated read that's perfect for fans of His Dark Materials, Nevermoor and even Harry Potter. It's a fantasy, science-based adventure set in a brilliantly devised parallel world. 

Paisley Fitzwilliam is rocked to the core when it is revealed that, before her fourteenth birthday, her track will end and she will die. But when her mother goes missing and is presumed dead, Paisley swears she will be the one to protect her dragon -touched brother Dax at all costs. Navigating the Empire of Albion, with its scientific rule, floating boroughs and underground sewers, Paisley and Dax set out on a journey to find their mother and unlock the secret behind her disappearance. But Paisley's fate is ringing in her ears. Can she change the course of her stars and survive the outcome?

This is classic storytelling at its best. The Empire of Albion is a richly imagined parallel world that has been constructed with meticulous attention to detail. In this story, dragons merge with science to tell us a story of creation with a difference. And now the world is in trouble, it's up to Paisley to take charge and defeat the Dark Dragon - a chilling and unique villain.

The story is told from two perspectives - Paisley and Roach. In Paisley we get a strong, brave, female lead whose odds are against her and her family from the start. Paisley feels all the fear that comes with the knowledge she's going to die but, after being brought up by a mother with strong convictions, chooses to defy her stars and do everything she can to save the world and those she loves. In contrast, Roach, who works for the Dark Dragon, has made all the wrong choices. However, I love how Avery reveals the reasons behind his actions which are both poignant and relatable. As a result, Roach is very much a character to watch. 

The plot is dynamic and action-packed. From floating boroughs to dragon walkers, museums to sewers, readers are privy from the outset to a strong internal and external struggle. The strong villainous force that is amassing reminded me very much of The Death Eaters and many things still lie unanswered. What role will the dragon-touched play? Is the comet really a comet and has The Veil been penetrated? This is a world that isn't going anywhere and may the cogs of time turn quickly until the next instalment.

The Nightsilver Promise is now available to buy.

Tuesday 4 May 2021

UPCOMING RELEASE: The Very Silly Dinosaur, SillySaurus! by Hannah Barker and Johanna Zverzina


Published by: Cherish Editions

(an imprint of Trigger Publishing)

Published on: 27th May 2021


Perfect for the younger end of the picture book market, Cherish Editions brings us a stompingly good dinosaur tale this month with engaging pictures, loveable characters and a wish that all little ones can relate to. 

When Gio realises he can't have his very own T-rex, he settles on the next best thing- his beloved toy, The SillySaurus. But when the SillySaurus disappears and strange things start happening in his bedroom, Gio has a mystery to solve. Could his wish have possibly come true?

This book is not only the perfect buy for dinosaur fans young and old, it is also a perfect snuggle-up story for a (grand)parent and child to enjoy together at bedtime. The SillySaurus is lovable and endearing and the story is set in a world that is completely familiar to a child reader - their bedroom and the wider home. The illustrations by Johanna Zverzina are big, bold and vibrant and reflect the fun nature of the story.

This is a non-rhyming text told with beautiful simplicity. Hannah Barker brilliant captures and encourages the imagination of a young child by setting up a laughable, excitable but rather messy mystery that Gio has to solve before his mum gets really cross. There is also lots of food involved, making the story deliciously sensory and watch out for the splishy, splashy paint. Eeek! Who could possibly be responsible for that?

As well as indulging in one of a child's favourite fantasies- having their own, real-life dinosaur- Hannah Barker also wanted to make a serious point with this picture book. With a strong need for wider diversity in children's fiction, Hannah wanted to her main character to be of mixed heritage so that her own children and others can find books that they can relate to and which hold reflections of themselves within the pages. You can read more about Hannah here. Link to publisher.

Overall, this is a gorgeous early years text, beautifully illustrated and which will put a big, silly smile of readers faces. I wonder if a SillySaurus will be causing mischief in your house anytime soon...

A big thanks to Cherish Editions for offering me the opportunity to review. The Very Silly Dionsaur, Sillysaurus is out on the 27th May.

Monday 3 May 2021

GUEST POST BY FIONA BARKER: Author of Setsuko and the Song of the Sea


                                                                       Link to Publisher

                                                     Published by Tiny Tree Books: Spring 2021


This spring has seen the release of some incredible books, one of which is Setsuko and the Song of the Sea, written by Fiona Barker, illustrated by Howard Gray and published by Tiny Tree Books. Telling the tale of Setsuko, a girl who has an incredible bond with the ocean, it sets out to remind us of the beauty of the world around us.

Setsuko loves the ocean but feels like her people have abandoned it. So when she meets a whale who also fears he is the last of his kind, their hearts and minds bond. When Setsuko reassures the whale that there are more whales out there, he thanks her for restoring his hope by giving her a song. Now Setsuko must use that song to call her people back to the ocean...

This is a story about the beauty of the natural world. It champions the hope that, in the face of disaster and uncertainty, humans can and will reconnect with the oceans and address the problems that are threatening its future. Setsuko is one girl whose actions inspire change. This sends the important message that we can all make a difference on an individual level.

Setsuko's story is beautifully told by Fiona Barker. It is soothing and lyrical and conveys the wonder of what lies in the depths. In an interview with My Book Corner, both Fiona, Howard and Tiny Tree talk about the inspiration behind this picture book. But below, Fiona also has written a guest post about how she came across the idea and how she will be sharing her new release with children around the country. 

Guest Post by Fiona Barker: Setsuko and the Song of the Sea

Setsuko was written partly in my head while out litter picking, partly at my desk at home (recently reclaimed from my daughter!) and partly in an audiology booth at work (shhhhh! Don’t tell my boss!) I work with people who have hearing loss and dizziness two and a half days a week. It’s lovely and quiet working in a sound proof booth but I don’t have a window so at home I like to be able to see outside. At the moment, I’m channelling inspiration from some wild characters on my windowsill too. In my writing room I also have lots of illustration on the wall (and books on the shelf!) I’m fascinated by the art of illustration and how these magical people are able to make a story without words.

Currently I’m getting ready for school visits and book events for Setsuko so I’ve been collecting together everything I need. I’ll be accompanied by Humphrey the humpbacked whale who has been practicing his drawing for a game called Splash or Trash. I’ll also be sharing some whale facts with a Which Whale? quiz. And I dare say there’ll be some singing and a cardboard tube craft or two! For my Danny and the Dream Dog events I carted around 35 little stuffed dogs but I’m travelling a bit lighter this time! I do love events though and I have thoroughly enjoyed throwing myself into getting ready for this new title, including spending the last year learning Japanese. I’m still very much a beginner but hugely enjoying it and I hope to be able to pass on a little bit of what I’ve learned during my events especially when telling children about the amazing lives of the ama divers on whom Setsuko is based.

Setsuko has had a long journey and I’ve so looking forward to everyone getting to know her world and learning what they can do to look after the wonder that is the ocean.

Setsuko and The Song of the Sea is available to order now. A big thanks to Fiona and to Tiny Tree for giving us the chance to be part of Setsuko's journey.

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