Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Book in Every Stocking suggestion by Nicki Thornton - Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norriss

Dear Santa

We know how much teen readers like dark stories, but what about a few feel-good reads for teens in some stockings this year?

Can I suggest ‘Jessica’s Ghost’ – one of this year’s best feel-good teen reads. It is a story that many teens (or tweens) will relate to – it’s about how hard school can be if you don’t fit in. And yes, it does have its dark moments – but it is a wonderfully warm story about friendship and having the courage to be yourself.

The main characters are all those misfits who find school a challenge – Andi, who is an awesome good fighter and puts her fist to anyone who teases her for not being tall and beautiful. Overweight computer-games nerd, Roland, and Francis – who’s serious interest is fashion and who makes dolls clothes.

When Roland is first faced with Francis’s room of over 50 dolls, fabrics, patterns and a sewing maching his comment is: ‘don’t they give you a bit of a hard time about it at school?’ And this is the heart of the tale.

But we haven’t even yet mentioned the ghost!

This is possibly the most unconventional ghost story ever, as Jessica is a confused and lonely ghost who brings the three friends together by the common factor that they are the only people who can see her (we learn why as the story progresses).

Jessica’s big skill as a ghost is that she can help Francis with his fashion obsession by thinking herself into any outfit she can visualise – and making the misfits see that they have more in common than they realise.

The children are all clever and articulate – and all really, really good at something. You just know that once they get out of school how suddenly being bright and unconventional will be a benefit and lead to successful lives – but it is the difficulties of negotiating school that this novel deals with. And just how serious things can get when teenagers feel there is no way out of the problems they face and the loneliness of feeling you are the only one who doesn’t fit in.

Andrew Norris’s comforting voice tells the story, which skilfully steers its way through being fun, while dealing with serious issues.

It is reminiscent of ‘Wonder’ the book about a boy’s gradual acceptance at school when he has a very bad facial disfigurement and I think the readers who enjoyed that will also enjoy this.

Children won’t often find a friendly ghost to help them with their problems – but discovering that children are all different and that everyone can find a way to fit in, is a great message to receive at Christmas.

Merry Christmas


Monday, 21 December 2015

Book in Every Stocking - Suggestion by Jane Martin - Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates.)

It's a piratey stocking filler suggestion today from writer and Golden Egger Jane Martin.

Dear Santa

I think all stockings should have a copy of Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates.) This is the story of Hilary who REALLY wants to be a pirate but The Very Honorable League of Pirates won’t accept her because she’s a girl. It doesn’t help that her dad is an Admiral and he’s on a mission to get rid of all pirates. Instead of heading to learn piracy, Hilary ends up at Miss Pimm’s Finishing School for Delicate Ladies (or does she?) This is an excellent story with great characters, including a talking stone gargoyle. There are ships, swords /ghosts and treasure maps. Plus, it’s really funny – especially the letters, newspaper clippings and other bits of writing that appear between chapters. These also make it more interesting to read than a normal book.

Although Magic Marks the Spot is about a girl, I think boys would like it in their stockings too. After all, it’s about pirates and being a kid; having to do what adults say (sort of) and going to school; having friends and being determined.

Most of all, it’s a funny book about pirates. What’s not to love?

Best wishes


By Caroline Carlson & Dave Phillips

Jane blogs at she can also be found on Twitter as @janemartinwrite

Friday, 18 December 2015

Book in Every Stocking Suggestion by Emma Perry - The Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haigh and Chris Mould

Today's Book in Every Stocking Suggestion to Santa is about Santa, picked by Book reviewer, writer and Golden Egger, Emma Perry.

Dear Santa,

This year I'd love you to add a sprinkling of Christmas cheer by popping a copy of The Boy Called Christmas - Matt Haigh (words) & Chris Mould (illustrations) -  in to as many stockings as possible.

Why? Well Santa, it tells your story - and what could be better than that? 

It tells of your humble beginnings in that wooden hut with your turnip toy. With great pace it retells your adventurous journey to Elthem - the elves you met there and the struggles you went through to help them see the beauty in kindness. I loved how it showed your own personal journey to discover what you were truly destined for. 

What a magical, Christmas tingling story it is, especially with those illustrations from Chris Mould peppered through out. He really caught your best side don't you think?

Don't be bashful Santa, this sparkly blue book telling 'the true story of Father Christmas' will look quite magnificent in plenty of stockings.

With love & bookish wishes,

Emma Perry
My Book Corner

To read Emma's full review of The Boy Called Christmas press here

Monday, 14 December 2015

Book in Every Stocking Suggestion from Sally Poyton - Toby and Ice Giants by Joe Lillington

Dear Santa,

I hope you are well and that your Christmas preparations are going well. I know that you are busy man, and far too busy to keep up with amazing amount of Children’s books that are published, and so I'm suggesting a stocking filler picture book, for yonder children and older ones with an inquisitive mind.  My suggestion is the beautifully illustrated ‘Toby and the Ice Giants’ by Joe Lillington.

The book tells the charming tale of Joe a young bison living in the Ice Age, who encounters many of the amazing prehistoric animals which roamed the Earth at that time.  In each page he meets another giant of the ice age and next to the story there is a fact file with interesting information about the species, including the Homo Sapiens.  The end of the book has a line-up of all the animals showing their size in relation to modern day children, in addition to glossary and more illustrations of ice age creatures whom Toby didn’t meet on his adventure.

The book is beautiful object in hardback with a tactile cover, and inside it is a feast for the eyes with lovely illustrations, depicting he beasts but making them not-too-scary for young readers.  As I mentioned this is a lovely book for sharing with younger children but is also interesting and can captivate the more independent reader (I know this as my 9 year old son loves it.)

I hope you like my suggestion, and that it may be make some children very hapy to find it in their stocking on Christmas morning.

Have a lovely Christmas.

Festive Cheers


Monday, 7 December 2015

Book in Every Stocking Suggestion from Amanda Hatter - It’s your world, get informed, get inspired and get going by Chelsea Clinton

So today's Book in Every Stocking suggestion comes from Amanda Hatter author of Callum Fox and the Mousehole Ghost that we featured on the blog in January to read the features press here.

Dear Father Christmas

If I could recommend one book, to be popped into stockings all over the world this Christmas, it would have to be Chelsea Clinton’s ‘It’s your world, get informed, get inspired and get going.’ It’s an amazing book that I pick up whilst visiting the UN head office earlier this year. I read it with my 14 year old daughter and it sparked more conversations and thought than either of us had expected. Every chapter covers a different issue, from cancer and obesity to poverty, war and child brides. It’s an easy and accessible read, full of facts, graphs and real life inspiring stories. I’d recommend it for all teens, in particular girls. It motivated my teen and I to think about what we could do to make a difference and I hope you get a lot out of it too.

Wishing all the readers of Space on the Bookshelf a very happy Christmas!

AC Hatter

Friday, 4 December 2015

Book In Every Stocking Suggestion by Philippa R. Francis MA - The Children of Green Knowe'. L.M. Boston

Christmas is almost here, so it's time for the Space on the Bookshelf annual 'Book in Every Stocking' to help you count down the days until Santa visits. To help Santa along the way, and knowing he is far to busy to keep up with all the amazing books that are published for children, we have asked some budding writers to write to the man in red and suggest some great stocking filler books.

To kick us off we have suggestion from  SCBWI- folk, Golden-Egger and Chicken House  Runner-up Philippa R. Francis...

Dear Father Christmas,

I know you will find exactly the right stockings to hold 'The Children of Green Knowe'. L.M. Boston's classic story is perfect for the season - it all comes to a marvellous climax on
Christmas Eve. There are ghosts and a curse, a wild ride on horseback through a storm and an ancient house that was once a castle. At the end of it all, a lonely boy finds his courage, and love in some unexpected places. Old-fashioned, eerie and funny and sad at times - ideal for those who already have Joan Aiken, Helen Cresswell and John Masefield on their shelves. I've read it aloud too - and it's great fun for that - though some bits still make me cry!

Thank you for sharing a book I treasure - and did you know you can visit the real house?

Philippa R. Francis MA

Philippa R. Francis writes as K.M.Lockwood and her web-site is:
She can also be found on Twitter as @lockwoodwriter

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Spreading the Christmas Book Cheer - Charitable Book Gifting

Christmas is the season for good cheer and spreading that cheer far and wide. Here at Space on the Bookshelf we've been thinking of how book loving folk can spread their love of books and do a good deed this festive season, so here are a few suggestions…

It seems hardly possible that some children within our own society will wake up on the 25th of December to no stocking or gifts, but sadly this is a sad reality for many children living within the UK. So with this thought is lovely to know that The Blackwell’s Oxford Giving Tree is back again this year. The Giving Tree is an opportunity to gift a book to one of these children from less-than-ideal circumstances, and what makes it truly unique and special is that you can choose a book for a particular child. The Gift Tree is a Christmas tree in store that is adorned with parcel tags which has written on it the age, gender, and preferences of a child. You pick a tag, choose a book , buy it and Blackwell staff wrap the gift and work with a charity to distribute the gifts on Christmas Eve.

Last year, friend of SOTB Robin Stevens launched the Giving Tree, to read more about it press here. Also good news for anyone who isn’t local to Oxford, as Blackwells now to an online Giving Tree, press here to find out more.

This year has seen a lot of coverage over the plight of the Syrian Refugees and the migrant camp at Calais. There have been some truly remarkable fundraising efforts, like Patrick Ness’s campaign that raised a phenomenal sum or the Migrant’s library. Back in the summer I donated a pile of OUP Picture dictionaries to the Library, but due to the massive amounts of supports they have been inundated with books, however there is another way to support them, by a monetary donation to the library (press here to find out more) or by way of the Waterstones Buy-a-Book-for-Syria initiative.
Waterstones, have partnered up with Oxfam and publishers to see a series of books within their shops where all the profits go to the Syria appeal. To find out more, pop into your local Waterstones. Or press here.

If you want to spread your book cheer closer to home, then the booktrust supports UK based children, by providing children and organisations with books and works tirelessly to promote literacy and the love of reading. Booktrust always welcome donations, to find out more press here.

Image courtesy of The Book Bus

When you are looking for gift inspiration for the person who has got everything, how about sending them the gift of giving with The Book Bus, Gift a Book Card. Book Bus, travel Africa bringing books to communities, and you can buy a beautiful Quentin Blake illustrated Christmas Card for £10, where the money goes to buy books for The Book Bus appeal. To find out more about The Book Bus Cards press here.

Image courtesy of The Book Bus

Of course spreading the Christmas Book Cheer could start even closer to home, how about instead of /or as well as sending your children’s teachers a box of chocolates at Christmas, why not donate a book to the school Library?

Or finally if a random act of book giving is more your style, you could have a go at Bookcrossing. How about registering with the Bookcrossing website, then warp up some books and leave them in public places for people to find. To find out more read out interview with Bookcrosser Jan Markey here, or press here to go to the bookcrossing website.