Sunday, 15 December 2013

Carnegie Advent - 2nd week

This is what we found in the second week of our Carnegie Advent Calendar (8-14 Dec). There are a few here that will make my personal shorter lists. For those of you collecting the anagram letters, they're gathered at the end of this post.

Pic 'n' mix

These three books are all illustrated and are also nominated for the Kate Greenaway medal.
It sounds like a cliche, but SF Said's Phoenix really soars. It's an absolute delight to read and Dave McKean's illustrations add a special something that lifts the story off the page. A great unexpected read for me.

There's also David Almond's (of Skellig fame) Mouse Bird Snake Wolf, also illustrated by Dave McKean. You should take the dust jacket off this one because what lies beneath is a colourful masterpiece. Then there's some non-fiction in the crowdfunded Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute? by Elke Barber and her son, Alex, which deals sensitively with the traumatic death of a parent experienced by a young boy.

Fantastical cogs and wheels

Fantasy adventure with a hint of darkness (the blue ones) and a hint of raucous fun perhaps (the red ones)? Expect cogs and wheels, and steampunk aplenty? Plenty of appeal. Also, do you remember what I said about circles on covers in this nominations list....?

We've read The Obsidian Mirror. Note that our copy is a proof. The actual book cover looks like the picture below and I'd recommend it as adventurous Christmas reading.

From sea to sky.....

We haven't read many of these but my guess is these books may appeal most to middle grade readers (older primary and young teen) though if they're great and unexpected, they'll reach everyone.

The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas - David Almond (Walker Books; he has 2 nominations)
Far, Far Away - Tom McNeal (Jonathan Cape)
The Cloud Hunters - Alex Shearer (Hot Key Books; I started this - promising middle grade)
Sea of Whispers - Tim Bowler (Oxford Univeristy Press; my curiosity is aroused)
North of Nowhere - Lizz Kessler (Orion; our guest reviewer, Chutney (12), loved this)
I have read Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (Faber). My expectations were sky high and it delivers. Pippi Longstockingish in character, it's an unusual delight, and the main character may well also remind some people of Neverfell in Frances Hardinge's A Face Like Glass. It's really quite lovely in so many ways. Another great unexpected.

Back down to earth.....

 with a little bit of history.....

  • Song Hunter (Sally Prue, Oxford Univeristy Press) goes right back, to the time of mammoths and the Neanderthals;
  • A Dream of Lights (Kerry Drewery, Harper Collins) is set in a North Korean prison camp;
  • Out of the Easy (Ruta Sepetys, Puffin) is set in 1950s New Orleans;
  • Ghost Hawk (Susan Cooper, Bodley Head) - depending on your interpretation this one is either more fantasy or more history; the only one I've read from this group, it's likely to be on my personal shortlist. It surprised me and I adored it. Another one of the great unexpecteds on the list for me.

When everyday goes badly wrong....

 These look like they tackle big, contemporary, UK issues: child abuse (Blood Family, Anne Fine), gun crime (Raining Fire, Alan Gibbons), an armed school attack (Siege, Sarah Mussi), and returned young army recruits (Heroic, Phil Earle). These might be too heavy for my personal taste (Blood Family definitely was) but we'll see (says she who once was an ardent Robert Cormier reader).

This week's 23 advent letters:
(bringing your current total to 43)

N  E  I  N

T  H  O  O

B  G  N  A

D  I  C  R

E  H  K  A 

E  E


Yes. we know it's not a letter, but the exclamation is a tile (we took inspiration from Rebecca Stead and lied a bit).


  • The apostrophe is the only tile that is a punctuation mark
  • Our message starts with a W
  • Our message contains familiar phrases - but we may have taken small poetic liberties with one of them.
  • The exclamation mark would fit well as either the 76th tile or as the ........ tile!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you liked Rooftoppers - having not been keen on Rundell's debut The Girl Savage but seeing enough potential in her writing style to give her another chance I picked it up and was enthralled. Gorgeous book and a wonderful ending. :)


Hi there! We'd love to hear what you think. Please leave a comment. You need to fill out the word captcha too because of spam. Your comment will be visible after approval.