Gaslight by Eloise Williams #MiddleGrade #VictorianHistory

Last year I was blown away by the beautifully written contemporary story of a 13 year old girl in Seaglass by Eloise Williams, so this year I have read her earlier historical novel, Gaslight.

gaslight

Gaslight is a short book which is difficult to put down. Set in late Victorian Cardiff, the heroine, Nansi, survives by working and thieving for Sid, owner of the Empire Theatre, who “took her in” after she was fished out of the sea. But he is not a kind guardian; Nansi is physically and mentally abused by him and yet she stays. Her strength comes from her determination to find her missing mother and she finds peace in night-time swimming. The story portrays all the social ills of the time but also friendship and comradeship. The environment of the theatre and its surroundings are clearly created, and the book includes several Dickensian characters. The title reflects the atmosphere of the theatre but also reminds us of the term “gaslighting”. If I was still teaching this would be the perfect book for my Year 6 book club.

Find Gaslight at Amazon UK

My review of Seaglass by Eloise Williams

eloise williams

Eloise Williams

Eloise Williams was born in Cardiff in 1972. Her second book GASLIGHT won the Wales Arts Review Young People’s Book of the Year Award 2017, the YBB Book Award 2018 and was shortlisted for the Tir na nOg awards 2018.
SEAGLASS was chosen in the Top 10 Books for Young People of 2018 by Wales Arts Review:
“The queen of children’s writing in Wales goes from strength to strength, and her third novel does not disappoint. A continuation of her unique brand of scary and page-turning story-telling skills, her latest book has already gone down a storm in classrooms…”

Eloise lives in a tiny cottage by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, with her artist husband, Guy Manning, and her cairn terrier, Watson Jones. She collects sea glass, sagely pretends to know about the tides and accidentally sings Welsh songs out loud on the beach.

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Seaglass by Eloise Williams #BookReview #AmReading

Seaglass

She will come for you… Lark struggles when her family and their friends go on holiday in a lonely caravan site on the Welsh coast for the autumn half term. Her mother is ill, her little sister has stopped speaking and she has fallen out with her best friend. Is a girl in a green dress following her in the fog? Or is her sister playing tricks on her? When a local woman tells her the girl comes to take sisters, Lark finds herself the only one who can save her family. Perfect for fans of Emma Carroll and Lucy Strange, Seaglass is a chilling contemporary ghost story with a determined 13-year-old heroine defending her family and learning to handle her emotions.

My Review

Seaglass is a Middle Grade novel for anyone from 10 to 90, as long as you can remember what it’s like to be 13, anxious and angry. Set in a caravan park on the Welsh coast during the Autumn Half Term it was an ideal read over the nights of Halloween and bonfire night.

To help her mother, Lark tries to look after her little sister, but Snow’s muteness makes communication difficult. From the moment they arrive in the seaside town, strange things occur and she is warned about a ghostly danger to her sister.

Eloise Williams writes beautiful descriptive passages of the beach and coastline, full of poetic expression and she enables us to enter Lark’s mind, seeing her worries, her rage and fear.  Misunderstanding within Lark’s family have increased her stress and a secret from her grandmother’s childhood is now affecting Lark and Snow.  But there is comradeship and affection from their community of friends even if sometimes this leads them into dangerous predicaments. The book deals with racism, friendship, bullying and loss within the context of a mysterious, atmospheric tale.

Seaglass can be found on Amazon UK

 

 

The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris #FridayReads

The Lost Words

I bought this large sumptuous book at Christmas as a present for my husband but really it was for me.  Written as a response to the removal of words such as acorn and willow from a children’s dictionary, it laments the loss of these words to our children’s vocabulary and is a book of spells to help the words return accompanied by gorgeous pictures in medieval gold.  The spells are acrostics, filled with kennings like, “colour-giver,” and “ripple-calmer,” to describe the kingfisher and delightful alliteration.  You can guess the next spell poem by seeking out the name from the golden letters or gaze in awe at the wonderful pictures.

Can you guess what is being described in these words?

This shape-shifter’s a sheer breath-taker, a sure heart-stopper but you’ll only ever spot a shadow-flutter, bubble skein.

This swift-swimmer’s a silver-miner. With trout its ore it bores each black pool deep.

If you can find space for this impressive book, search in the children’s section and take it home to share and treasure.

The Lost Words on Amazon UK

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ANYTHING BUT BOOKS TAG

Anything

I’m pleased to take part in one of those random questions things, after being tagged by writer pal Terry Tyler ~ you can read her post HERE. She in turn was tagged by  Shelley Wilson 

Q1. Name a cartoon that you love.

I don’t really love cartoons.  I adored Popeye when I was a child but occasionally I will now watch Futurama.

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Q2. What is your favourite song right now?

I usually only listen to music in the car.  I have always liked Fields of Gold especially the version by Sting, but at the moment I really like Katie Melua’s version for Children in Need.

Gold

Q3. What could you do for hours that isn’t reading?

I have always enjoyed walking by water; along a beach, a promenade or a clifftop path.

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Q4. What is something that you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

A few months ago I started Tai Chi lessons.  I enjoy the stretches, the breathing and the mindfulness.  I hope it will improve my terrible balance.

Tai chi chuan.

Q5. What is your favourite, unnecessarily specific thing to learn about?

I like finding out about my ancestors who built Thames barges or worked as lightermen on the Thames. I also have researched the lives of my ancestors who were born in Gibraltar, Nova Scotia and Barbados as army brats because their father was a 19th century soldier.

Q6. What is something unusual you know how to do?

Not so much know how to do, but always remember.  I can tell you most of the main Dewey decimal numbers for topics in a Library, such as 821 for poetry or 595.7 for Insects.  I can also remember book authors, especially of children’s books even though I can’t remember the names of people I know.  It’s a symptom of a lifetime of working in school libraries.

Q7. Name something that you’ve made in the last year.

I made a blanket out of crocheted squares with a crochet along challenge on Facebook.

snowflake Sq

Q8. What is your most recent personal project?

I am researching and writing about what happened to children from the Workhouse who were sent to a sail training ship or into service as a maid.

Q9. Tell us something that you think of often.

I think about my grandchildren even though I see a lot of them and when I’m not there I think about our little house in Portugal.

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Q10. Tell us something that’s your favourite, but make it oddly specific.

My favourite activity is discovering new cousins through genealogy, and either meeting them or corresponding with them.  I have met several lovely people this way, from all over the world.

Mark

Meeting my American cousins in London

I’m not going to Tag anyone else as I’m not sure who would like to do it but if you are reading this and would like to accept the challenge. I would love to read your answers.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve #BookReview

Mortal

This post-apocalyptic, steam-punk novel may be aimed at 11 to 16 year olds, but it appeals to all ages, male and female. This is the second time I have read “Mortal Engines” and I still relish every minute getting to know Hester Shaw, the girl disfigured by her parents’ killer and Tom Natsworthy, a loyal apprentice in the Guild of Historians who encounters Hester in alarming circumstances. We also meet heroic explorer Thaddeus Valentine and the frightening Shrike who has been brought back to life, an amalgam of flesh and metal. Yet both these characters have hidden depths.

 

Set in a world following the 60 minute war when major cities like London have to travel around the world on wheels preying on smaller towns and cities, their enemies belong to the Ant-Traction League who wish to stop this cruel, belligerent lifestyle.

 

Perhaps it is Philip Reeve’s previous occupation as an illustrator which makes his descriptions of transportation and multi-tiered cities so easy to visualise but I am looking forward to the promised filming of this novel and desperately hope it will meet my expectation.

 

Mortal Engines can be found on Amazon UK

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg #FridayBookShare ~ @ShelleyWilson72

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s there were several superb stories for children by husband and wife Janet and Allan Ahlberg.  My respect for Eddie Redmayne increased tremendously recently when he shared his love for Miss Wobble the Waitress and other Happy Families books by the Ahlbergs.  I have two copies of The Jolly Christmas Postman, one for children to pull apart and crumple and another in good condition which is mine!

First Lines

Once upon a Christmas Eve
Just After it had snowed,
The Jolly Postman (him again!)
Came down the jolly road;
And in the bag upon his back
An … interesting load.

Recruit fans by adding the blurb

It’s Christmas Eve and the JOLLY POSTMAN is delivering greetings to various fairy-tale characters – there’s a card for Baby Bear, a game appropriately called ‘Beware’ for Red Riding Hood from Mr Wolf, a get-well jigsaw for hospitalised Humpty Dumpty and three more surprise envelopes containing letters, cards, etc. Everyone’s favourite postman keeps on peddling his bicycle up hill and down dale . . . and into everybody’s hearts.

Introduce the main character – The Postman is jolly, full of food and glad to reach home at last.

Delightful Design

christmas-post

Audience appeal  Children, adults, anyone who likes Christmas and inventive books.

Your Favourite Scene

There was once a moneybox in the shape of a pig that belonged to a little girl named Angela.  This pig had a curly tail, a coin-shaped slot in his back…and criminal tendencies.  In some ways the pig was quite good-natured, at east when he was empty.  But money is the root of all evil and as he got fuller and fuller, he became boastful.

“I’m rich!” he cried, to the other toys, “I’m the richest creature in this room!” And he rattled his tummy.  “I’m a millionaire!”

One night in the week before Christmas, when the pig was simply bulging with money, he decided to run away.  He rattled.  He scrambled and wobbled down the stairs………..

#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

#FridayBookShare Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce

#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

Framed was a book I first bought for my school library many years ago but which I wanted to return to as a relief from all the angst in the UK currently.

First Line  My dad, right- ask anyone this, they’ll all say the same- my dad can fix anything; Toyota, Hyundai, Ford. Even Nice Tom’s Mam’s diddy Daihatsu which is about the size of a marshmallow so you need tweezers to fix it.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

The perfect crime – it’s a work of art, in Frank Cottrell Boyce’s ingenious story, Framed.

Dylan is the only boy living in the tiny Welsh town of Manod. His parents run the Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel garage – and when he’s not trying to persuade his sisters to play football, Dylan is in charge of the petrol log. And that means he gets to keep track of everyone coming in and out of Manod – what car they drive, what they’re called, even their favourite flavour of crisps. But when a mysterious convoy of lorries trundles up the misty mountainside towards an old, disused mine, even Dylan is confounded. Who are these people – and what have they got to hide?

A story inspired by a press cutting describing how, during World War II, the treasured contents of London’s National Gallery were stored in Welsh slate mines. Once a month, a morale-boosting masterpiece would be unveiled in the village and then returned to London for viewing. This is a funny and touching exploration of how Art – its beauty and its value – touches the life of one little boy and his big family in a very small town.

Introduce the main character –  Eccentric boy thief

Delightful Design

 

new Frame

Audience appeal   Age 9 plus including me!  It might help if you can remember Teenage Mutant Ninja  Turtles.

Your favourite line/scene

The Misses Sellwood live on a farm halfway up Manod Mountain.  Miss Elsa can drive but she can’t see.  Miss Edna can see but she can’t drive.  So what they do is, every Wednesday Miss Elsa drives and Miss Edna steers.  It’s not so risky on the mountain road because no-one lives up there apart from them and Mr Morgan’s sheep, but when they hit the High Street, they are a Menace to Society.

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.