Children's Book Sequels Blog

Updates & Book Reviews for Children's Book Sequels

Book Review – Joanna Nadin – No Man’s Land

October 14, 2021

”I could feel it coming. War, I mean. Creeping up on us, into our town, down our street, into our house. 

Ten-year-old Alan lives with his younger brother Sam and his Dad in Albion. His mother has been dead for 5 years and his list is his only memory of her, snippets of events and descriptions.

During a normal week at school one of the teachers leaves, but no-one says why, then Alan and his brother are taken in the middle of the night to a “Safe” place and left in the company of some women who used to be friends with their Mum. He has to leave his old phone behind & Dad gives him an emergency one with just his number on it, but that is taken from him and he can only contact his father when necessary. Alan loves code, it’s what his father does for work, so when he can use the phone he uses coded text to his father. There’s 2 dates circled on the calendar on the wall in this new house. One is Alan’s birthday and one is a week later, when the war will come. But who are the enemy and who is a friend?

This is an amazing story that I didn’t want to end. It works on many levels, for the children who want a good story, and for the adult it will mean something else. The map, I love a map in a book, is interesting as the area is recognisable, with old English names for places. This safe place is No Man’s Land, between two countries, the bit in the middle. It’s a story of code, friendship, family and loss, but most of all kindness.

Book Review  – Lucy Hope – Fledgling

October 14, 2021

A gothic tale set in 1900 in Bavaria. Cassie Engel lives in a towering house on top of a tall rock that looks down upon the small town of Edenburg. Extra storeys have been added to give space to various collections including one of stuffed owls.

Her mother is an opera singer, but she’s not well and stays in her room most of the time, and her father is a taxidermist. Cassie only has one friend, Raphael, who lives down in the town. One night there is a bad storm, and Cassie hears tapping on the window. She tries to open the window just a bit to see what is making the sound, but the wind catches the window and it is thrown open wide, wide enough for something to come flying in and land on the bed. It’s a creature but Cassie can’t work out what it is. It looks like a baby bird of prey, but she and Raphael soon discover it’s a cherub. Why is she here? Why is Raphael acting so oddly? Cassie must research her family history and secret past to look for answers.

This is a wonderful debut story by Lucy Hope, with echoes of Skellig and angels. It’s very atmospheric with vivid descriptions of the house with a roof that opens, the library with its smell of ancient tobacco and a zip wire that works between floors.

Thank you to Nosy Crow for an advance copy in return for an honest review.

Book Review  – Susan Brownrigg – Gracie Fairshaw & the Mysterious Guest

September 30, 2021

Susan Brownrigg – Gracie Fairshaw & the Mysterious Guest

A tale of a new home, new friends, magic and deceit.

It is 1935 and Gracie Fairshaw, her brother George & her Ma have just taken over a boarding house, an earlier version of modern bed and breakfast guest houses, called The Majestic in Blackpool. Something Ma has wanted since she used to go to Blackpool for holidays as a child. The illuminations that happen every year are about to be turned on and the town is full of visitors and guests.

Gracie has no lower arm on her left side, but it never holds her back, she’s just learnt how to do things in a different way, and George is just the sometimes annoying younger brother. The first morning at the boarding house, while doing the breakfasts, Ma has a shock. She recognises one of the guests at the Majestic, and Gracie can tell it’s not a good memory. Ma shrugs it off and they get ready to go and explore the town, but as they are ready to leave Ma disappears.

So starts a great tale of new friends, magic, and deceit. The characters are very well written they make you want to discover more.  Gracie is a believable & brave character who is very observant, while some people can’t see past her disability, and her new friend Violet is so inquisitive constantly wanting to take things apart, you just know they’ll make a good pair of detectives.

This is a wonderful story, a seaside adventure that rattles along like the rides at the Pleasure Beach. I’ve never been to Blackpool, but the way in which it is described is so vivid the town comes alive in the book.

Discover more about Gracie Fairshaw here:

Safari, Smuggling, Secrets and Steam Trains.

This is Hal’s third Adventure in Trains with his  Uncle Nat, and we’re off to South Africa during February half term for a safari and a trip to Victoria Falls.
But just as the train is about to leave Pretoria, Hal sees something that doesn’t look right, so out comes his sketchbook, his constant companion and he makes a quick drawing. He also meets Winston, the son of the safari guide, and his constant companion, Chipo, a little yellow mongoose with a fondness for peanuts. They are also coming on the train as there aren’t many passengers on this trip.
As the train starts it’s long journey we are introduced to a wonderful diverse cast of characters, from different parts of the world, all with their own personalities. There is an excellent conversation on the plight of endangered species as the train heads north for its first safari. But Hal still thinks something isn’t right, or is he just looking for something to investigate? When it does happen, is it just an accident? There are all sorts of twists and turns in the tale, which drives the story at speed along the tracks. Elisa Paganelli’s wonderfully descriptive drawings are a joy and it’s all in the detail. The train itself is described perfectly, you can just see the deluxe suites and the observation car and smell the upholstery mixed with the steam.
If you haven’t read the other two stories in the series, The Highland Falcon Thief & Kidnap on the California Comet, please rectify this now. This series is a great adventure hurtling down the train tracks.

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