Friday, 25 May 2018

3D Review - Kate Wiseman - Editor Interview with Elaine Bousfield the MD of Zuntold Publishers

What was your favourite children’s book as a child?

I loved reading more than anything else in the world. It is difficult to choose just one book to be honest. As a younger child there were two books that stayed with me for quite a long time. The first was Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh and the second was The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley.

I loved, and still love, books with a magical element or fantasy edge to them. I drove my sister mad with the Water Babies because I insisted that if I poked my heads under my bed covers at night, there was an ocean waiting for me, where I would turn into a Water Baby and have all sorts of adventures. I was so convinced of this, that my sister went crying to my mum, saying she was afraid that I would drown.

What is your favourite children’s book as an adult?

Ok..again this is difficult. I think my favourite has to be Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman. It is quite a tricky read for many children though - I think it is more likely to be enjoyed by older children - age 11 or 12 onwards. I love this book because of its beautifully detailed world building, and the amazing concept of the daemon - that part of our soul that lives outside our body as a separate but intricate part of ourselves.

I loved it, also because it combined a wonderful female character (Lyra - strong, curious, impatient, kind) with a fantastic life-changing adventure. It was pure genius. It was an important book because it tackled questions of adult power and how adults abuse their power sometimes and of course, the role of religion. It asked the important question, how can we find meaning if there is no God? They are big questions but I think children all over the world think about these things. Not many children’s books explore such complex themes. I also loved A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, a masterpiece in that it explores grief and loss, and the suppression of guilt which so often accompanies it.

What do you think makes children’s books so inspirational?

Ok…my immediate answer to this is they are not self -conscious; they remind us of the importance of play. They allow us to imagine again. And they teach us things about ourselves and the world without preaching at us (the best ones do anyway). I think our education system drills the imagination out of us and we forget how to play. Children’s books allow us recourse once more to a deeper, more connected inner world.

What do you love about this book and what makes it stand out?

I love gangster school because of the reasons mentioned above. Kate is so playful - the story turns the normal world of school on its head and gives us chaos, naughtiness and rule breaking instead. And it places at the centre of the story, two very different personalities who soon learn that despite being different, they need each other. So its about friendship and loyalty but it is also hilariously funny. I love Gruffles and Wolf. Kate develops characters well alongside a sizzling plot-line that keeps you turning the pages. The second Gangster school had me laughing so much, my entire family came up to my loft room where I work to see what I was laughing at.

How many people have worked on this book and for how long?

I got to Gangster School quite late in the day and didn’t have to do much editing to be honest. Just a little bit here and there. Kate worked on it for four years I think, but the other Gangster School books are being written much more quickly - the characters now have a life of their own I think. We also have our production team at Carnegie - Anna the MD there took a look and loved it p- and Lucy did that typesetting. Isla Donohoe, a young artist from Manchester designed the cover - like me she read both the first Gangster School and the second and could not stop laughin

Elaine Bousfield has worked in mental health and trained as a counsellor, working for many years with young people. She ran her own business, Xenzone, and developed an online counselling and support platform for young people called . She sold Xenzone in 2015 and is still its chair and founding director. She writes fiction herself and in 2017 set up Zuntold with the aim of publishing new and exciting fiction for children and young people. She is particularly interested in diversity and the role that fiction can play in changing lives. She is interested in exploring fiction which can be used in therapeutic work with children.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

GDPR - Are you happy to keep in touch with Space on the Bookshelf?

As you will be aware due to the influx of e-mails in to you in boxes, there are some changes afoot in regards to GDPR. We are Space on the Bookshelf, really appreciate your support and hope you wish to stay in touch. We have always taken the matter of privacy seriously and have always had a privacy policy available for people to view on our blog. However we have updated it and you please follow the link to see how we protect your data and for detail on how to unsubscribe if you wish to.

Many Thanks


Wednesday, 23 May 2018

3D Review - Gangster School - Kate Wiseman - Author Interview

What was your favourite children’s book as a child?

That’s a hard question! There are so many to choose from. As a child, I used to get told off for reading in the shower and ruining my books. I was very dedicated.

There are two that really stand out in my memory: the first is Five Children and It by E Nesbit. I loved the Psammead (sand fairy) with his lumpy body and grumpy attitude and his eyes on stalks. He grants wishes to the children who dig him up, and they always backfire in some outlandish way.

My other childhood standout is My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. I was green with envy at Durrell’s unconventional life on the island of Corfu, enchanted by his descriptions of nature, and his family’s high jinks made me laugh my grubby knee-high socks off.

What is your favourite children’s book as an adult?

Another tricky question. There is so much brilliant kids’ lit out there. I’ve read Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights countless times and my family never tire of trying to work out what form someone’s daemon would take. Beware though – it may cause offence. Another favourite is Ross Wellford’s wacky, funny, touching Time Travelling with a Hamster, which incidentally also gets my vote for Best Book Title of All Time.

What do you think makes children’s books so inspirational?

One of the great tragedies of growing up is that we’re encouraged to downplay the importance of imagination in favour of other, more ‘practical’ qualities. Kids’ books embrace imagination and celebrate its power to transport us beyond the confines of the everyday.

As life becomes more and more pressurised and kids are pushed to conform to society’s expectations regarding everything from passing endless assessments and exams to the way they look, children’s books are a portal to countless other worlds where they can live a million different lives. They have no limits.

Why did you start writing for children?

When I finally got the courage to write fiction instead of essays, it never occurred to me to write anything else. I love the freedom and spontaneity of kids’ lit. It allows me to pour my overactive imagination and daft sense of humour into my writing. I still can’t imagine writing for adults and doubt that I ever will.

What made you want to write this book?

My son had just gone off to university and I was moping around, biting my lip every time I passed his bedroom door, and I needed to concentrate on something else. I decided to stuff all my fears of failure into a little box, lock it away in a dusty corner of my mind and have a go at fulfilling my childhood ambition of being a writer. I’ve worked with kids for a long time and writers are encouraged to write about what they know, so a school was an easy choice.

When my son was smaller, he used to disconcert people who asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up by saying ‘an evil genius’. That got me thinking – what would a school for young felons actually be like? And what would happen if you got sent there, but you weren’t actually a criminal at all?

What is your favourite aspect of writing for children?

Being able to give free reign to my imagination. I especially love concocting a rich history for Blaggard’s School for Tomorrow’s Tyrants. To me, the characters of Sir Thomas Blaggard, the school’s founder, who was born in a mud hut on the banks of the Thames and survived by eating stinging nettles and wrestling bears until he found his criminal feet, and Sally Masters, the eighteenth century Highwaywoman (nickname Blunderbuss Sally) and Foggarty and Spinks, the body snatchers, make the school what it is today. I also love thinking up situations that make me giggle.

Kate Wiseman is a wife, mother and cat minion who lives in Saffron Walden, Essex. Her many years experience of working in schools prompted her to begin writing about Blaggard’s School for Tomorrow’s Tyrants, the world’s best educational establishment for trainee villains.

Gangster School was shortlisted for several prizes and was published first in Germany, by Piper Verlag in October 2017. Piper has just released Gangster School 2: The Brotherhood of Brimstone and there are more to follow. Gangster School is also being published in summer 2018, by Uitgeverij, Holland.

Kate has a degree in English and Creative Writing and a Masters in English Literature. Gangster School is her first novel.

Monday, 21 May 2018

3D Review – Gangster School Kate Wiseman – Reviews

Gangster School is a funny, action packed adventure following the most dependable of the new intake of year seven students at Blaggards Gangster School as Milly and Charlie try to fit into their new school, win the converted thievery competition and battle a super villain that’s hell bent on taking down the school and after that world domination.

We watch as quick thinking and resourceful Milly Dillane the daughter of a family of art forgers and skilled hacker Charlie of the family Partridge famous for kidnapping, embark on their first year at the school which is renowned for its output of infamous scoundrels and villains. Both want to make their families proud, but have doubts about their criminal tendencies, feeling like they are much more dependable (honest non-criminals), but also don’t want to end up at the rival school Crumleys a dangerous establishment for lower class of criminals, which is built on a mound of deceased failed students.

Milly and Charlie, become fast friends and allies helping each other navigate through classes, outwitting older students initiation rituals and even thwarting the most infamous evil villain, Pecunia Badpenny who visits the school with the intent on destroying her nemeses the renowned head teacher Ms Martinet, brainwashing all the students and then using her new technology and student criminal army to brainwash the army, and police in her bid for world domination. Using their unique talents and dependable moral compasses, Milly and Charlie along with a little help in the form of Gruffles Charlie’s unruly pet dog, and Badpenny’s unloved robot dog-henchman Wolf, save the school and even win the thievery competition. 

With Gangster School Kate Wiseman, has used the ‘fish out of water ‘ concept of new students in boarding school, but has made it very much her own, creating an funny and chaotic world, where the protagonists are undeniably the good guys, but are trying to pass as not-so-good, amongst a cast of shady eccentric and funny characters. This leads to many amusing incidents throughout the story, making for a funny read, both for children and adults, as she uses every criminal cliché with excellent comic effect, personally I loved the nods to early criminal facial profiling with the possibly the best monobrow in children literature!

Gangster school from its vibrant and humorous cover illustrated by Isla Bousfield-Donohoe, to its final chapter is a fun rip-roaring adventure.

Child Review by Spike (a boy who is frugal with words)…

Gangster School is awesome. Is there a real Gangster School? If there is can I go? And if yes, can I have a robot dog?

Would you like to win a signed copy of Gangster school, along with a loot bag complete with stripy criminal t-shirt and criminal mask to decorate? If so head over to Twitter and check out our competition. @Bookshelfspace

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Rose’s Dress of Dreams - Katherine Woodfine - Mini Blog Tour & Review

Today we are delighted to welcome Katherine Woodfine to SOTB as part of her Mini Blog Tour ahead of the publication of the beautiful 'Rose's Dress of Dreams'.

Rose’s Dress of Dreams is inspired by the real life of Rose Bertin, who was born in 1747 in France. She moved to Paris at a young age, where she found work as an apprentice dressmaker.

Portrait of Rose Bertin 

Rose was ambitious and excelled at her work. She was soon promoted, and her designs became popular with the ladies of the French court. But her biggest success came when she became the favourite dressmaker of the new Queen of France, Marie Antoinette.

Portait of Marie Antoinette by Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun [

Rose’s imaginative designs helped the young queen to make a sensation. She was responsible for many of Marie Antoinette’s most iconic outfits (which continue to inspire designers to this day).

Kirsten Dunst in Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette [

Rose even helped design Marie Antoinette’s towering hairstyles, which were often decorated with objects relating to current events - such as a ship to represent a naval battle in which the French had triumphed!

Marie Antoinette’s famous coiffure

Rose became an important figure at the Royal Court, known as the queen’s ‘Minister of Fashion’. The outfits she created set trends not only in France, but all around Europe: dolls like this one, dressed in miniature versions of her designs were sent to foreign courts to help them keep up with the latest styles.

18th century fashion doll from the V&A Collection []

Rose opened her own shop on Rue St Honoré, which was always full of ladies of fashion who wanted to emulate the queen’s style. Today, her shop is long gone - but I couldn’t resist visiting where it had once stood on my most recent trip to Paris.

Visiting the Rue St Honoré, Paris 

Nearby was a lovely shop with a window full of pink-and-green macarons which seemed perfectly in keeping with Marie Antoinette’s wardrobe!

Delicious macarons!

Of course, the French Revolution changed everything for Rose. The glittering splendour of life at the French Court came to an end - and she soon had to leave Paris for a new life in England.

Today, she is often remembered as ‘the world’s first fashion designer’. I hope my story about how Rose’s amazing career got started will be enjoyed by young readers - who will find her passion, creativity and determination as inspiring as I do!

Dress by Rose Bertin worn by Marie Antoinette, from the Royal Ontario Museum collection [

For lots more pictures of Rose Bertin’s incredible creations, check out my Rose’s Dress of Dreams Pinterest board []

We have endeavoured to cite all photographic sources  -  Many images via Pinterest - click on the link for the source

Review - Rose’s Dress of Dream  - Katherine Woodfine & Kate Pankhurst

Rose’s Dress of Dreams, is beautiful book which celebrates those extraordinary people with imaginative minds that dare to dream different by telling the tale of Rose Bertin. Katherine Woodfine tells us the tale from Rose’s perspective as she dares to dream about frocks and gowns, drawing her designs and wishing to make fine attire for fine ladies. Young Rose undeterred by people mocking her dreams and designs both, leaves her little town for Paris where she becomes an apprentice dressmaker, where a mistaken encounter with The Princesse de Conti, gives her just the break she needs as the Princesse commissions her to make her a gown. The gown, Rose’s Dream Dress, is such a hit, she soon the most in-demand dressmaker in Paris.

With Rose’s Dress of Dreams, Katherine, has both told an engaging and delightful account of Rose’s true life achievements; her rise from humble beginning to the become histories first Fashion Designer, but also woven in a message to children, to dare to dream and to work hard and be determined to see your dreams realised. The story is enhanced with Kate Pankhurst’s beautiful illustrations. The pictures and text are a perfect pairing, given that Kate is best known for her Fantastically Great Women Who Made History and Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, both books about other inspiring and history changing woman just like Rose Bertin.

Rose’s Dress of Dreams is a delight, a feast for the eyes and inspiration for the mind.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Review – AdoraBULL – Alison Donald & Alex Willmore

Tom and Alfred are inseparable, they are as close as a boy and bull can be, spending all their waking hours together. However all things must end and when Tom has to go to school Alfred pines for his friend. Alfred’s loneliness is made worse when he hears Tom ask his parents for an adorable pet. 

Envious and lonelier then ever Alfred uses Tom’s Dad’s phone to look up the meaning of adorable, and upon finding oodles of images of tea-cup dogs, and cute cats, tries his hand at being adorable too. However no matter what Alfred tries his efforts are met with ridicule and laughter, as he faces the fact that bulls just aren’t adorable. Just as Alfred has given up, Tom swoops in with a surprise, one adorable pet, to keep his best-bull-friend company when he’s away at school.

AdoraBULL is funny, charming and crammed full of lovely messages about loneliness, friendship and faith. It is also beautifully illustrated by Alex Willmore’s earthy soft images which really work exquisitely with Alison Donald’s text. 

But what really makes AdoraBULL stand out is that it has had the courage to do something that is truly rare in picture books, by including modern technology. Most picture books are free of new-fangled tech, staying firmly in a nostalgic pre-internet world. But with AdoraBULL, we see Alfred actually using a smartphone, and the internet. But far from detracting from the story, this little snippet of the 21st century sets up the jokes and laughter, as well as mirroring the readers own world, (when was the last time you looked up a word in a dictionary?)

AdoraBULL, is a funny, relevant and charming books, a future classic.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Review: Dino Wars – Rise of the Raptors by Dan Metcalf and Aaron Blecha

You now a book is good when: as soon as it arrives, before you get to read it is disappears, stolen by a child to read.

You know a book is REALLY GOOD when: every time you find said to book and put it aside to read and review it, it goes missing, stolen by the child to re-read and re-read again!

This is exactly what happened with Dan Metcalf and Aaron Blecha’s new book Dino Wars, Ride of the Raptors. Hence the delay in posting of the review! No apologies though, I fully blame the author and illustrator of creating such a good book!

So what makes it so good? Well Dino Wars, is a funny, exciting adventure with a fantastic concept at its heart. Set in the future, mankind have brought back genetically enhanced intelligent dinosaurs and weapons. The Dinosaurs have rebelled and won the Dino War, and last remaining humans, have walled themselves into a city living in harmony with peace loving herbivorous.

All is well until Adam Caine and his friends, in their haste to outrun a huge brontosaurus they’ve annoyed stumble upon an old Dino Wars bunker, and accidentally set of a weapon that will kill every dinosaur in the world. The group must venture beyond the safety of the wall and collect four crystals from Dinosaur strongholds, to disarm the weapon and save the dinosaurs from extinction.

Dino wars is fast paced and funny with a great cast of characters from Adam who’s brave and brash, his sister Chloe who is intelligent and cautious, Dax a tech loving inventor Iguanodon, and the stealthy mischievous six year old twins. Plus an array of eccentric dinosaur helpers they pick up along the way.

The book has twists and turns, action and humour for children and jokes specifically for adults like the fabulous nod to G R Martin’s Iron Throne being a particular highlight!

Dan’s story is further enhanced by Aaron’s fun and energetic illustrations. Dino Wars is a great read for younger readers.

And as I can tell you, you know a book is good when – your child steals it, reads and re-reads it and then asks for the rest of the series!