Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew with Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi – Re-visit your childhood with this enlightening book about Rainbow #ZippyAndMe @Punchand @unbounders #DuncanBarrett #NualaCalvi #Rainbow #retrotv #newreview #nonfiction #puppeteers

Zippy and Me
By Ronnie Le Drew with Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi
Rated: *****

I am pleased to be on the Blog Tour of the book Zippy and me. This book is the first behind-the-scenes look at the now legendary children’s TV programme Rainbow, which ran for more than two decades.

Zippy and Me BT Poster

About the Author

Ronnie Le Drew is one of the UK’s most respected puppeteers, and recipient of the prestigious Harlequin Award.
He has operated many of the most iconic children’s puppets of the twentieth century – Zippy, Sweep, Muffin the Mule, Bill and Ben, Brains from Thunderbirds – as well as working on classic puppet films such as Labyrinth, Little Shop of Horrors and
The Muppet Christmas Carol. He continues to work regularly as a puppeteer in TV,
theatre and advertising and also teaches at the London School of Puppetry, which he founded in 1987.

Ronnie Le Drew

Blurb

Over the course of almost half a century, puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew has worked with the greats – from David Bowie in Labyrinth to Michael Caine in A Muppet Christmas Carol. But the role that defined his career was Rainbow’s Zippy, who he operated for more than twenty years.
Zippy and Me is the first time a Rainbow insider has told the true story of what went on under the counter and inside the suits: the petty squabbles between performers, wrangling with TV executives, and scandals such as the ‘love triangle’ between musicians Rod, Jane and Freddy. Not to mention the now infamous X-rated episode shot for an ITV Christmas party, which subsequently found its way to the Sun.
Interweaved with the dirt on what really went on behind the scenes is the story of Rainbow’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s, when its stars found themselves catapulted into an exciting showbiz world – scooping a BAFTA award and even performing for the queen – and the story of a young lad from a south London council estate who defied his parents’ protests to became one of the most respected puppeteers of all time.

zippy cover

 

Review

The book has an entertaining foreword by comedian Richard Herring about the time when he met Zippy and was so in awe. It’s an excellent way to begin this book and thus being thrust back into the rather simpler life of early childhood of watching Rainbow. Rainbow, for anyone who does not know, was a long-running children’s tv series with Geoffrey at the helm and then there were Rod, Jane and Freddy and some puppets called Zippy, Bungle and George. How I was glued to the television when this was on. I even still remember the theme tune, later I learnt that the theme tune was worked on by none other than Hugh Fraser who played Captain Hastings in Poirot and other tv programmes and has also written books. What we would not have been aware of as children, was that Ronnie Le Drew was the puppeteer for Zippy for over 20 years. It defined his career as a puppeteer, but that wasn’t his only role. Yes, Rainbow was a very fun and cool programme. but he has also worked with some other very cool people such as David Bowie on the film Labyrinth and Michael Caine in the film – A Muppet’s Christmas Carol.

Ronnie Le Drew’s enthusiasm for puppeteering comes across from the very first chapter. It oozes with this positivity and energy as he writes letters for advice and attends a puppet theatre. It isn’t all plain sailing though. The writing means readers will really get the sense of the shock of his dad dying. This has real emotional impact and will do, with any reader. It really is heart breaking to read as home life becomes more of a struggle. This could not have been easy for Ronnie Le Drew to have written and re-lived, even all these years on. There’s a real sense to be had in the devastating loss of his job at Little Angel too. The one place he could go that seems like it felt a safe place and one, he describes as a place of solace. The writing of this time feels like it is heartfelt. Ronnie Le Drew has captured me as a reader. I am interested in his life. I feel like I care and care enough to really smile when I see his life start to change for the better, the more into the book. This is the power of his writing. The book has become, for me, at this point, more than just the fact it is really cool to read about Rainbow. I’ve been captured by every aspect before that job too, headed up by Pamela Lonsdale. It is fascinating to read how it all began and how Ronnie Le Drew landed the job. There’s an air of down-to-earthness about it all. I rather like that. Still, the puppeteer, when Rainbow wasn’t being filmed, due to the end of series one, he went back to where he began, at Little Angel, where there were spats, but rectified. I really got the sense that Rainbow excited him when the calls came for even the second series, but he wanted to play it coolly and professionally. There’s plenty to discover in this book, such as Matthew Corbett from the Sooty Show, as worked on Rainbow for a while and Le Drew began working as Sweep and there’s some great stories from this time too.
There’s a real sense of the physical demands on a puppeteer, which really might be overlooked when being a child especially, just watching on at favourite characters. So, there’s a real behind the scenes feel to what is written within the book. What appeared to be seamless, wasn’t the case at all. It is however, more interesting that the puppeteers were overlooked by the producers. The real frustration of this really comes out in the book. It gives readers a real insight. There’s also an insight into all the innuendo that went on within Rainbow, including in script form. There’s also an insight about the relationships and there’s a sense of real worry again from Ronnie Le Drew when so-called scandals came out about Rod and Jane. All the while, there is still a down-to-earthness about Ronnie Le Drew and how he saw his working life being a bit surreal.

It is interesting to read how doors opened into the more surreal world of American puppetry and films like Labyrinth and Little Shop of Horrors and yet he duly returned to Rainbow and also to the Little Angel Theatre. I get the sense it can’t have been easy re-living the splintering of Rainbow and also the failing health of John at the theatre. This however is far from a “poor me, sob story”. This, I get the feeling, is telling it how it really was, including the politics of the time, such as Margaret Thatcher (which now explains a lot about tv my brother and I watched growing up, suddenly disappearing, along with a lot of other things, that at that time just felt odd, but didn’t understand), was ensuring much was axed, something that even with the fact that the next job was on A Muppet’s Christmas Carol, still perhaps played on Ronnie Le Drew’s mind. There’s certainly a sense of this. Even though he worked with David Bowie and Jim Henson, there’s still a reality that always seems to kick in as Ronnie Le Drew seems surprised at getting roles. I have to say, it seems all quite endearing and I get the sense that this is all written from memories and the heart. There’s no bravado here. He doesn’t name-drop for the sake of it, it was a huge part of his life, working with, who we now would say were cool people.

It’s interesting to read about the move to Yorkshire and the feelings that came with that and failed revivals of Rainbow and how still other jobs came in, such as with Phillip Scholfield and then Rainbow again in a whole different format.

The book is full of ups and downs and many emotions, all captured beautifully in words on the pages. It isn’t just readable because of nostalgia and a natural curiosity about what happened to people who worked on Rainbow, but because of the sense that this is an ordinary man who did some extraordinary things within puppeteering and yet seems humble about it. This book is well set out and reads like a time-line of events and that works well for me. This is more than just Zippy and Ronnie Le Drew, this is a book that may inspire others who are in jobs that are precarious and indeed, into becoming puppeteers. It’s also a book about life, working relationships, family and all that comes with all of that. There’s warmth, there’s sadness and there’s fun within these pages. There’s revelations and reunions, none which seem sensationalised in any way, but are written with a dignity and in a matter of fact way. All in all, it is a brave and impressive book from an author who, we may not have all known his name, but who we were all so aware of as children and now also as adults because he has been working on modern puppets in advertising and other things that we all see. He has also never forgotten his roots. This is a fascinating read from someone who the public don’t really see, but all know the characters he has played in puppeteering and would give hope to anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps. Even for people not wanting to follow in his footsteps, it is absorbing and a book that shouldn’t be skimmed over. It has different levels of depth and emotion to it and it is interesting to read about all the comings and goings on Rainbow, but also what happened before and after the show ended.

I highly recommend this book. This book would interest anyone who has an interest in puppeteering or liked Rainbow or liked Seeing Things: A Memoir by Oliver Postgate, Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones.

 

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The Hangry Hamster by Grace McCluskey A short, action-packed book to engage and excite. #GraceMcCluskey #seansteele #damagedproductions #hamsters #education #kidslit #libraries #bookshops

The Hangry Hamster
By Grace McCluskey
Rated: ****

About the Author

The author Grace McCluskey is not your average author by any means. She wrote The Hangry Hamster, aged 8 years old. She is now a little older than this, but still somewhere between that childhood and young-adult stage in life. The story was originally written for the 500 word competition ran by Radio 2. She did not win and naturally became disappointed. She, however did not give-up entirely and with going through all the usual editing processes etc, illustrator Sean Steele got on board and the book was published this summer and is already doing well.

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Review

Today on my blog, I am delighted to present a review of The Hangry Hamster. I had the privilege of reading the Hangry Hamster pre-publication and knew as soon as I saw it, there was something really good and exciting  about it. I am happy to say I have been proven right and it has now been published with success.

The story introduces readers to Billy who wants a hamster and the fun the two of them have to of them have as they go everywhere together. That is until the hamster can’t go on a plane when Billy is going on a holiday abroad with his family. The hamster then goes on the run through London like no hamster has ever before and it turns out to be quite an adventure and readers will really see what happens when a hamster becomes hangry.

The front cover is brilliantly executed of a huge hamster towering over some famous London landmarks. It’s bright, fun and eye-catching. As an adult who works with every age, this is a book that excites me for children. The story is packed full of action, humour and the relationship between human and pet. The illustrations are brilliantly conceived and go along with the story incredibly well and the story really becomes alive.

I also really like this concept of bonding with a pet and becoming inseparable. The shift in pace works really well when the hamster becomes “hangry”. 
The illustrations are brilliantly conceived and go along with the story incredibly well and the story really becomes alive.

It’s great for a range of children, such as those who like to be read to, readers who are competent readers and enjoy reading alone, readers who are perhaps a bit reluctant. It’s short at 24 pages and there are illustrations on each page as well as a well constructed story.

This is a new story to really become excited about for children and would be an excellent addition to any library, and on your own shelves and is already in bookshops and selling fast. So, give new authors a chance and give this book a try. I reckon your child(ren) won’t be left disappointed. Even if you find it to be sold-out, I would still recommend you put in your request so you have a copy when it is back in stock.

Blog Tour Review For Start – A Seeringly Honest Account About Life With A Mental Health #Review #GrahamMorgan @FledglingPress #LoveBooksGroupTours

Review of Start
Graham Morgan MBE
Rated 4 Stars ****

About the Author

Graham was born in 1963 in York. He went to university as an angst-ridden student and was quickly admitted to one of the old mental asylums, prompting the work he has done for most of his life: helping people with mental illness speak up about their lives and their rights. He has mainly worked in Scotland, where he has lived for the last thirty years, twenty of them in the Highlands. In the course of this work he has been awarded an MBE, made Joint Service User Contributor of the Year by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and, lately, has spoken at the UN abouthis and other peoples’ experiences of detention. He has a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and has been compulsorily treated under a CTO for the last ten years. He currently lives in Argyll with his partner and her young twins. Start is his first book.

Blurb

StartGraham Morgan has an MBE for services to mental health, and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is the Act under which he is now detained.
Graham’s story addresses key issues around mental illness, a topic which is very much in the public sphere at the moment. However, it addresses mental illness from a perspective that is not heard frequently: that of those whose illness is so severe that they are subject to the Mental Health Act.
Graham’s is a positive story rooted in the natural world that Graham values greatly, which shows that, even with considerable barriers, people can work and lead responsible and independent lives; albeit with support from friends and mental health professionals. Graham does not gloss over or glamorise mental illness, instead he tries to show, despite the devastating impact mental illness can have both on those with the illness and those that are close to them, that people can live full and positive lives. A final chapter, bringing the reader up to date some years after Graham has been detained again, shows him living a fulfilling and productive life with his new family, coping with the symptoms that he still struggles to accept are an illness, and preparing to address the United Nations later in the year in his new role working with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.  

Review

At a time when Mental Wellbeing is increasingly on everyone’s radar, the book ‘Start’ by Graham Morgan (MBE) has an important place, more than ever before. Graham Morgan (MBE) has experience and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is literally a book that can be read by any adult. It is highly accessible. You don’t even have have a mental health condition or be in the professional field to be able to read it, understand it and find relatable nuggets that will fill you with empathy and give a deeper undestanding. Don’t be mistaken, this is no sob story, nor is it attention seeking. It’s deeper and more meaningful than that and it gives the impression that it couldn’t have been easy to write, but all the same, that Graham Morgan (MBE) is sharing his life with readers to deepen their understanding and increase their knowledge on his condition as presents is a full account of what it is like to live with mental illness. It is his own life experiences.

Graham Morgan comes across very quickly as a grounded guy when it comes to his MBE. This book is not a text book, so isn’t too full of jargon. Where that cannot be helped, there is a well-presented glossary at the back of the book.

The book begins with thoughts other people have had about the book. They are worth reading. They add interest. Start, begins properly with Life at the Links Cafe. This is different from so many books about Mental Health. It’s not a How to Book.
Right from the outset there is an air of positivity about it, almost a lightness, that I must admit was unexpected, but I like that attitude within it. It shows that life is not all anguish and woe, even when living with mental illness. Okay, it’s not all wit, but life isn’t, as I am sure readers the world over already know.

Throughout the book, the reader is given a real and genuine candid glimpse of what it is like to be walking in his shoes. It’s got so much life about it. He puts across his condition very well. It’s so easy to read and feel genuine empathy. There’s a seering truth that runs deeply through the pages as we see Graham picking up the pieces. The book goes between the light and the deepest depths of darkness throughout as he talks of some of the good things about life, but also about being sectioned under the very mental health act he helped to write.

It’s thought-provoking as we see the contraditions of thought processes that run through his life on a regular basis. It is raw with stark emotional threads. Graham Morgan does not shy away from anything about his mental illness. This also includes hospitalisations, support workers, psychiatric professionals, medication too. It also includes a bit of an insight in how he is treated because he has a mental illness.

I love the style of writing. Graham has adopted the more personal approach of  speaking directly to his reader. This matters to him and he wants the reader to know that, and through the book, wants that dialogue.

We see insights to the relationship with his wife and how he might be with someone again.

We see how he has had suicidal tendencies through self-harm methods.

This book is ever so moving. This is a book which has hope contained within it that there is still, even through all the mental illness that Graham Morgan lives in, that there is hope in the future and there is life that he is living.

 The book goes through the consecutive months of the year with their own appropriately named “chapters”.

It is worth reading. It is Graham Morgan (MBE) life story and it is an important one. One perhaps many people do not know with so much honesty and openness. It leaves its mark. It left me feeling enlightened, interested and perhaps a bit more understanding. We are all human-beings with so many complexities within our make-up and life is not all black and white. It’s not all going to be sad or hard like it’s not all going to be completely happy and joyous every moment of everyday of it. This book shows all of that and more through first hand experience, which makes it such an important read, even if it is not your usual genre or topic.

Start Blog Tour Poster

With thanks to Love Book Groups Tours for inviting me to review this book for a Book Blog Tour and for supplying the E-Book. Please note readers, you can buy this book in both physical and E-book forms.

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Title: Start
Author: Graham Morgan, MBE
Publisher: Fledgling Press
Print ISBN 9781912280070
eBook ISBN 9781912280087
Main Purchase Points: WH Smith, Amazon, Foyles Bookstore

 

Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian – All is Not as it Seems in this Unique Book @Jsmithauthor @matadorbooks #fantasy #mentalhealth #kidslit #fiction #crossover @twylie68 @litlemonbooks @EmmabBooks @SueWeedon #Review

Review of Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian
Author – J.M. Smith

Rating – 4 Stars ****


About the Author

J.M. Smith is a retired psychotherapist who worked within the NHS mental health department for many years.

 

Tony Plumb book


Blurb

If Your Mind Housed a Spy, What Secrets Would it Spill?

Harbouring troubled memories of time in care, Tony Plumb struggles to keep his mind on track.

Prone to episodes in ‘Madsville’ and bombarded by thought chariots carrying unwanted baggage from the past, he’s smuggled to Ellodian by the rule dodging social worker, Ms Bendy Legget.

At this spooky, underground facility, Tony’s history intertwines with the present and the task of answering three crucial life-changing questions cannot be avoided.

With help from good friends and therapy, Tony challenges authority, rights and wrongs and makes enemies, until he finally comes to understand the nature of his conundrums, the meaning of the word family and the darkest secret of all:
What really happened at the waterfall

Tony Plumb card

Review

Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian is a fictional book that is perfect for Christmas, but it is also one that can be read all year round. It does mention Christmas, but that’s not the main crux of the story.

There are strong themes of mental health, family relationships, separation, loss, being from the care system, dealing with issues, self discovery, throughout this book. They are all written in a sensitive, tangible and realistic way. There is however some humour to be found within this book too, which really lifts it and adds to the life of the tale.
The story is complex, but not overly so, since it is well plotted. It would hit its target audience of 9-12 year olds who are good readers very well. It is age appropriate for this age group in the way the themes and language used are handled.

This book is firmly in the crossover market because it would suit any child from 9, teenager/YA and adult. It would easily suit people who enjoy either fantasy and/or tales that take you on a journey through life and of mental health.  I would recommend for its target “crossover” audience.

We immediately meet Tony Plumb who is not just thirteen, but thirteen and a half years old to be precise. He is at Evensham Social Services to see Ms Bendy Legget (whose name I just love for its humour). We get to know that he was in a children’s care home in Daisy Bank. I like that there is no hanging around to meet the main protagonist and to get to begin to know and understand him. The story has instantly begun and starts at a good pace, which remains constant throughout the book.

Before long, Tony has entered the mysterious place of Ellodian. The story goes between this world and the world of the therapy he receives.

The thought processes of Tony and the moles are in a different font and style. This is an ingenious idea because it doesn’t detract from the narrative of the story and flows very smoothly. It also looks effective and fun on the pages, making the story easy to read and follow. We actually get to know that Tony has what he calls “thought chariots”. I love this description, already it depicts what is going on and gives a real insight into the state of his mind. It gave a sense of true feeling about what he was going through.

Enter the unique world of Ellodian

The mysterious, dark place of Ellodian is where Tony is sent to, with his parrot – McGurney. It’s an adventure like no other! As a reader I found myself being immersed into this world very easily. We meet new characters, more authoritative adults for Tony to contend with – Miss Frankly and Mrs Sherbet and Prospect . Again, I just love the humour of the names.

The entire world of Ellodian that readers are thrust into is well described and mysterious, with odd uniforms which makes you question: Who or What are The Moles?
As you read on, I am sure you too will find yourself totally immersed because you want to know more and you will discover the significance of the moles. This is a world that I found myself not being able to help myself wanting to know what more curiosities it had to offer.

Tony finds himself on a mission to discover the answers of 3 questions. These aren’t any ordinary questions. They are exploratory questions about himself. Let’s just say, not the types of questions you would normally be asked in everyday conversation. I think this just adds to the mystery of the main character of Tony Plumb and who he truly is as a person. The questions are effectively set out, easy to understand and moves the story onwards very well and is created in such a way that feeds into the curiosity of the imagination. It becomes even more thought-provoking. By this time, I had already invested in the main protagonist, so I needed to know if all the questions were answered, how and what the actual answers are and the truth of Tony Plumb. I also wanted to know by this stage, what Ellodian actually was.

I enjoyed meeting Mrs Heapy – a psychotherapist by profession. In amongst the talk about mole friends, there is a real emotion that comes through from Tony. It is sensitively and realistically written, when we learn a bit more about the relationship between him and his parents. Quickly, I was captured and I think even our younger readers will be too. Tony also at this point, becomes even more likeable than what he ever was to begin with. We begin to get much more of a sense of his life. This isn’t just an adventure/fantasy book with some character or other leading you through many paths. It’s more than that. The main protagonist is 3 dimensional with real issues, real emotions and is a character to invest fully into.

Perfax is an intriguing character with major issues, which we see quickly and get the understanding of his temperament. He is a character that, although comes very much later in the book, is so well written.

Evensham Social Worker Department is returned to in the book. It gives it some grounding and shows the depth of Tony. The story, as it goes between Evensham and the world of Ellodian is written in a way that any reader will be able to follow.

The book concludes very well, it left me satisfied and I am sure it will leave anyone else reading this well written, well paced book, feeling the same. All in all it is a thought-provoking story and the balance between the issues and the fantasy elements are well-balanced. There are also the most unexpected twists and turns that are written in an inspired way of creating more drama. This also develops the story further and adds to the intrigue into how the story can possibly end. I would say –  take a chance on this debut child/YA/adult cross-over novelist and discover what is real and what is not in Tony Plumb’s life. Discover the world of Ellodian and allow yourself to be taken on a journey. You won’t be disappointed!

With thanks for J.M. Smith for writing to me with extra information about herself, for sending me a message/request to review her book and for sending me a copy of her book and an accompanying card/bookplate.

*Please Note – This is an impartial review.

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Title: Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian

Author: J.M. Smith

Publisher: Toubador/Matador – Juvenile/YA Fiction

Pages: 273

Main Purchase Points:  Amazon, WH Smith, The Telegraph Bookshop

ISBN 978 – 1 – 78901 – 503 – 4

The Treasure at the Top of the World – A Freddie Malone Adventure by Clive Mantle – Go Time Travelling and Open Up A World of Adventure and Discovery. @MantleClive @award_books @twylie68 @LoveBooksGroup #kidslit #teenbook #debut #BookReview #Education #Schools

Review of The Treasure at the Top of the World –
A Freddie Malone Adventure
Author – Clive Mantle
Rating – 5 Stars *****


About the Author

Clive Mantle photoClive Mantle, Born in Barnet, is a well-loved British Actor and has been for nearly 40 years. As a boy in the 1960s, he sang with St. John’s College Choir, Cambridge, went to the National Youth Theatre and trained at RADA in the 1970’s and has been a fixture on stage and screen ever since.
Clive Mantle is best known for playing Little John in Robin of Sherwood, Greatjon Umber in Game of Thrones, Mike Barratt in Casualty and on stage as Tommy Cooper, and Lennie in Of Mice and Men. His voice is also well known from his work on over 180 audio books, and voicing animated characters, including Gator in Thomas the Tank Engine.
He is an avid reader and has been ever since his parents handed him Stig of the Dump. His favourite children’s book are the Noggin the Nog sagas by Oliver Postgate and he has a passion for walking in the Wiltshire Countryside. Clive Mantle’s inspiration to write what is the first in the series of Freddie Malone adventures came during a trek to the Everest Base Camp for the charity Hope and Homes for Children. He has since returned to the Himalayas and completed the Annapurna circuit. Everest has been his passion since childhood, when his Father enthused him with its many tales. Years later, he realised a lifetime’s ambition and set foot on the mountain himself, and the magnificence of the experience is with him everyday. 

Synopsis

The Treasure at the Top of the World coverClive Mantle has said: “I have woven a tale of adventure in the past and present against the wondrous backdrop of Nepal and its people. I am thrilled that the story I wrote for my own son to pass on the flame has now found a wider audience, who will hopefully have their imaginations stimulated as mine was as a young boy”.

In the first of The Adventures of Freddie Malone series, The Treasure at the Top of the World Freddie receives an intriguing and unusual thirteenth birthday present from his Uncle Patrick. The ancient world map goes straight up on his wall, but Freddie fast discovers that the map is much more than just a decorative historic artefact. Freddie, and his best friend, Connor, are soon plunged into a mountainous adventure, on a path that leads to a longburied mystery, pursued by ruthless adversaries who’ll go to any lengths to get what they want.

 

Review

This is more than just a tale to tell. This a story of (in no particular order) adventure, social and land geography, history, present day, travel and friendship.
It is indeed a fictional book, but also seems part travelogue in a way, although not strictly written like one.

There are relics and treasures to be had, people to meet and a country to explore, all within the safety and comfort of your own home.

This is an impressive story that will grip children from the age of 8 years old and teenagers alike. It will send them on a terrific journey of exploration within their imaginations as they read and delve further into this book.

The cover is brilliantly conceived. It looks exciting and instantly eye-catching, with the swirly writing going into Mount Everest. It is very fitting to the content within the book. The characters are well developed – they are realistic, relatable and likeable. Readers will be able to care about these characters enough to want to find out more about them.

In the beginning of the book is the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It’s not as random as it first appears. Read further into the book and all becomes apparent and makes complete sense as to why it is cleverly featured right there. It’s a fantastic, attention grabbing beginning to this novel!

The story begins at the beginning of the school summer holidays with Freddie and his best friend Connor joining together for Freddie’s birthday party. One of the gifts is an ancient map. This is where the adventure begins… After feeling unwell, he mysteriously finds himself in Kathmandu, Nepal. The map is definitely no ordinary map!
The map illustrated within the book, featuring all the locations within the story.

Children and teenagers would absolutely be able to get a sense of the sights and sounds of the city as well as a sense of emotions. They will find themselves transported to this country through the map, photos and descriptions given.

There are great photos of Mount Everest and Namche Bazarr. The photos are a brilliant way of enhancing children’s knowledge of these two iconic places in Nepal in a very visual way. Infact, throughout the book, each location in Nepal is wonderfully descriptive, which for children and teens (or anyone unsure of what anything in Nepal looks like), would be very useful for them. 

Clive Mantle weaves facts about Mount Everest and famous exhibitioners/mountaineers and other people Freddie comes across living in Nepal, into what is essentially a fictional story, very effectively. There is enough to create a fascination and to enhance knowledge, but not so much that readers will feel overwhelmed with it all. There is a very good balance between fact and fiction as well as a good pace being mantained throughout.

The book twists and turns between two worlds. It’s not all plain sailing for our intrepid explorer as the story moves along at a good pace. The transition between the two worlds are written clearly, ensuring the book is accessible to all within the age group, avoiding confusion. It also effectively mantains a natural flow. 

The book may well contain the much used method of time-travel, but the concept and the map, which is used as a device here to tell the story has a freshness about it. 

There is a real sense of adventure and danger within this book that will  excite any young reader. There are large themes of friendship, adventure and bullying all interweaved within the narrative and dialogue of the story. Clive Mantle has handled it all very well and has evidently given a lot of thought, sensitivity and care to this. Within the back of the book are several useful websites which children and their parents/carers etc can access for support. On a lighter note, he has also given further reading books for teenagers. His choices are good, they will resonate with teens who want to find out more about Nepal, Mount Everest and adventure. There are also a few pages at the end of the book, devoted to explaining the facts behind the story. This is informative and also age appropriate and connect beautifully with the story. All of this additonal information is definitely worth reading and back-up the book very well. They are also as well written as the main story itself.

This book will excite, inform and educate children and teenagers in a way that will spark their imagination, curiosity and interest. The fictional story itself is absorbing. It can be read within a home, a school and there is plenty of content within it that schools, parents, children, teenagers can use to encourage both private reading and to spark conversations with each other.

Overall, I was impressed by the content and the way it was all semlessly handled within this book and how well it is written as a whole, especially since so much is covered within those pages. Clive Mantle’s writing is very good, the language used is age appropriate for the suggested marketing age of 8+. His passion, that he has had since childhood really comes through within this book, as does the desire to share tales with others, as his father did with him. Children and teens generally like to learn about different parts of the world and Nepal, certainly in my experience of previously working within a voluntary children’s group, is one of those countries which does fascinate them. So, this book certainly feeds into their natural curiosity very well.

Coming Soon

Watch out for more Freddie Malone books to come! Excitedly, I can tell you that Clive Mantle has informed me that he is currently in the process of writing book 2 of the series, which is set in Ancient Egypt, and book 3 will be about Pepys and the great Plague and Great Fire of London.

I would like to thank Clive Mantle for providing the photos and other very useful information, such as the synopsis, personal info and details about his upcoming books.

   Namaste

____________________________________________________

Title: The Treasure at the Top of the World

Author: Clive Mantle

Some Main Purchase Points: Amazon, WH Smith, Foyles, Wordery

ISBN: 978 – 1 – 78270 – 321 – 1

Publisher: Award Publications Limited

Pages: 272

Cover Design: Patrick Knowles

Photograph of Everest: Daniel Prudeck/Shutterstock.com

Photograph of Namche Bazaar: Raisa Suprun/Shutterstock.com

Map and Text Illustration: Angie Hewitt

 

 

 

Music Within Fictional Books

Music to Die For” was a panel at Morecambe and Vice, showcasing some authors and their use of music within their writing as well as their music backgrounds.

William Shaw

William Shaw who had been a music journalist for 20 years and is now a best-selling author. He has received plaudits from well-written, well-known authors such as Val McDermid and Peter May for his book The Birdwatcher and now he has written his latest book is Salt Lake. The first in a new series of books. 

D.S Alexandra Cupidi is his main character who has left the London Met for the Kent Coastline with a  resentful teenager in tow. There a drowned man is found in a slurry pit and the more D.S Cupidi finds, the more questions she has to ask and the more she asks, the more suspicious people grow.

The man drowned in the slurry pit had been herded there like an animal. He was North African, like many of the fruit pickers that work the fields. The more Cupidi discovers, the more she wants to ask – but these people are suspicious of questions.

William Shaw also received the “Eric Award” for services to the Morecambe and Vice Festival.

Salt Lane book

 

Alan Parks

Alan Parks writes what is termed as “Tartan Noir” with his book: Bloody January. He was a successful music industry executive, working with All Saints, New Order, Gnarl’s Barkley and Cee-Lo Green to name but a few.
He talked about how he was inspired by music and how it essentially navigated him through culture. He uses 70s music such as Small Faces and David Bowie. He set his book in 1970’s Glasgow, which is worth mentioning that he sees Glasgow during this time period, being more glam than L.A. with folk making a real effort and getting dressed up for the night. He said, it was a different side of the city, away from the violence that was going on at that time.

Bloody January is a debut novel by Alan Parks and has already been shortlisted for THE GRAND PRIX DE LITTÉRATURE POLICIÈRE.
In Bloody January, Detective Harry McCoy is the main character who investigates the dark underbelly of 70s Glasgow. It is hotly tipped to be a real contender as being a new voice in Tartan-Noir.

 

Bloody January

Joe Thomas

Joe Thomas is a visiting lecturer at Royal Holloway University of London and is the author of Paradise City. He said that he sees music as categories that is infused into his first novel, “Paradise City”, which is set in Sao Paolo. Those categories are: political, joy and melancholy.

Paradise City investigates the underbelly of deepest, darkest Sao, Paulo, Brazil, where there are drugs and guns. Mario Leme is the main character to feature here. He is a low-ranking detective in the Sao Paolo civil police. Every day on the way to work he sets off early and drives through the favela known as Paraisópolis – Paradise City – the place where his wife was gunned down.
There are plaudits for its freshness.

Paradise City book

More About The Music

They talked about how they use music to draw the audience into the character’s worlds, giving them a sense of place and how it adds a certain amount of background atmosphere.

This, I found particularly interesting because music has often cropped up in books, but, certainly in the books I have read in recent times, it has had a presence in a way that seems more than ever before. This I think, can help add to the atmosphere and gives readers a sense of what was going on culturally at a certain time, in a certain place. Today, with the internet, music platforms and tv programmes dedicated to music, it is easier than ever before to look up a song or instrumental piece that is mentioned in a book and actually listen to it, if it is unfamiliar to the reader.

This was an interesting panel of people and the topic of their conversation certainly grabbed my attention and was well done.

All these books can be found within several bookshops such as WH Smith and Waterstones, to name but a few and Amazon.