Monday 25 September 2023

BLOG TOUR: SAVING THE SUN by Emma Pearl and Sara Ugolotti

Hooray! It's our stop on the blog tour for Saving the Sun, written by Emma Pearl, illustrated by Sara Ugolotti and published by Page Street Kids. We were lucky enough to be part of the blog tour for Mending the Moon, Emma's debut picture book also illustrated by Sara Ugolotti, last November and so it's lovely to part of the celebrations again...


When the sun sinks into the sea and loses its fire, it's up to Luna and Poppa to save it, just like they saved the moon. But how can they possibly fish the sun out of the water and get it back into the sky? And how will they set it ablaze again? It looks like Luna and Poppa may need some help along the way...

Just like Mending the Moon, this is a beautiful story with stunning illustrations which encourages problem-solving, teamwork and which highlights the importance of perseverance. With Poppa's gentle reassurance and Luna's love of the natural world, children will be able to enjoy a story with a BIG problem whilst feeling soothed by the lyrical language and safe in the pages of such a joyful setting.  

With whales and dolphins, fireflies and bursts of colourful birds, this text is a feast for the eyes. But what we particularly loved was that, although being a fictional story, it alludes to the humongous questions of science, activating the curiosity of younger readers. Why does the sun burn so hot? How does it stay in the sky? Where does it go at night? And what if it ever burns out? After reading such a playful and fun take on these ideas, hopefully little learners will be interested in finding out more about these big questions whilst also considering their own ideas on the matter.

This is a picture book with a big imagination, wonderful words and colourful characters and we highly recommend it. Great for fans of The Boy Who Switched Off The Sun by Paul Brown and Mark O'Hanlon and The Boy Who Unplugged the Sea by Paul Brown and Chris Capstick, this also doubles up as a calming bedtime story which will hopefully lull them to sleep as though they're bobbing on the waves themselves. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

Saving the Sun is available to pre-order now and is released in the UK on 24th October 2023. 

Monday 18 September 2023

UPCOMING RELEASE: FOXLIGHT by Katya Balen

Link to publisher

Published by: Bloomsbury, 28th September 2023

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With the most incredible autumnal front cover - I would love to know who the illustrator is - this new novel from Katya Balen is utterly breathtaking. For any readers who are already familiar with Balen's writing, it is delicate, fierce,  raw and exquisitely beautiful. Her use of language is unlike any other author I have read and this is probably my favourite novel she's written yet...

Two red-headed sisters, Fen and Rey don't have a mother. They were left at foxlight at the edge of the Wildlands, tucked amidst the fiery fur of a fox.

But now the Wildlands are calling to the girls and, desperate to find the out the truth of their story, they trek into the unknown to find it. But the Wildlands are harsh and brutal as well as beautiful. Will the sisters manage to survive, let alone find what they're looking for..?

Yet again, Katya Balen weaves a spellbinding tale of familial love, found family and the wild but healing power of nature. As in October, October, winner of the Yoto Carnegie Medal 2022, and The Light In Everything (both novels I absolutely loved but somehow never reviewed on this blog), her heroines are brilliantly drawn - gentle, furious and full of raw emotion - with their very natures intertwining and connecting with the nature around them. Balen's novels encompass the very essence of what it is to be a child in a complicated world, exploring how they navigate seeing the world differently, how they navigate blended families and families that found them rather than gave birth to them. Using her background of working in special schools and in social care, Balen creates characters who make us feel, who ignite our understanding and empathy and who help us to distill the most important truths in our lives. 

This is a quieter, yet extremely powerful read, different to your average middle-grade novel. The narrative is windier and less driven by action than many stories for 8-12 year olds but, for me, it still felt pacy. It's completely character-led, enhanced by a potent and intoxicating setting and words that fizz and sing and bite and scratch. The visual storytelling is a delight and I particularly loved the warmth of the character Lissa and the home she'd created. If any reader is in two minds whether to give this novel a try then it's definitely worth checking out Balen's novella, Nightjar, for Barrington Stoke, another incredible piece of writing with very similar themes. 

A big thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for allowing me a review copy. Foxlight is available to pre-order and is released on 28th September. I can't recommend it highly enough. 


Monday 4 September 2023

UPCOMING RELEASE: Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell

 

Published by: Bloomsbury, 14th September 2023
👍👍👍👍

If you love fantastical creatures, then this is the fantasy series for you. Inspired by an unfinished poem written by John Donne, Katherine Rundell combines unicorns with griffins with dragons and a plethora of other incredible creatures and whisks us away to a hidden realm: the Archipelago...

When Christopher goes to Scotland to stay with his grandfather, he is startled to see a thunder of mythical creatures tearing down the hill towards the house, leaving his grandfather no choice but to reveal the truth: he is a guardian of a portal between the human world and the Archipelago, a place where creatures of myth are protected. 

But the magical protection is weakening and when he encounters a strange, flying girl called Mal who is in desperate need of help, Christopher accompanies her back to the Archipelago where a dangerous quest awaits them...

This is a fast-paced adventure that moves at the speed of a dragon on a mission. The world-building is dazzling, the characters instantly loveable - Mal and Nighthand being firm favourites - and Gelifen, well, will steal your heart. There's sphinxes and manticores and karkadanns to reckon with as well as well as dark human power. 

As with other recent fantasies, one of the most prominent themes of the novel is the human destruction of the planet and the creatures within it. There's also an interesting exploration of the theme of power including, of course, the power of friendship. This first novel covers more ground than I initially thought it would, leaving it open for the next instalment to go in an unknown and exciting direction. There's certainly lots more places to explore and lots more creatures to meet. 

This is a different genre to Katherine Rundell's other fantastic novels: Rooftoppers, Girl Savage, The Explorer and The Good Thieves (Wolf Wilder being the one we haven't read) but the magical element is truly magic. I always enjoy Rundell's characters, including the adult ones she weaves into her stories, but this time it's the creatures that will make your heart soar, make your heart break and fill you with the wonder of imagination. 

A big thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for allowing me a review copy. Impossible Creatures is available to pre-order and is released on 14th September 2023. 

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