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    Surely no one is more qualified to help than Book Wizard, Barry Cunningham - the original publisher of Harry Potter. He has worked with some of the greatest names in children's books past and present - from J.K. Rowling to Roald Dahl and Cornelia Funke. And now, as the highly successful publisher of Chicken House, he is busy finding outstanding new fiction.

    Every month he'll talk book magic: pick a favourite story - and link it to another lesser-known book that keen young readers will also enjoy!

    This month - Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

    When I was working with J.K. Rowling on editing HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE, I could never really understand the rules of Quidditch. We agreed that it was too complicated, but, as no one would ever try and play it, we'd leave it as it stood. Years later it caused Hollywood untold agony! But of course it's just this kind of detail, and the creation of a complete world, that entrances the fans of the books. Fantasy lovers looking to continue the spell in another, very different but equally thrilling, way should look no further than Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams' brilliant TUNNELS series, an underground world that just gets more and more involving and exciting as the series progresses! Can you spot the character that mysteriously comes back from the dead? Let me know! For ages 9+

    'Does it live up to the hype? Yes.' DAILY EXPRESS

    'It's well paced, exciting and - in places - frightening and bloody.' Philip Ardagh, GUARDIAN

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    Those nice people at Open University Press have put together a mini Ultimate Survival Guide for University Students. Top tips on writing the perfect essay, finding part-time work, dealing with stress and much more including some puzzles to beef up your brain. You can also win £50 worth of books from our good selves if you solve one particularly fiendish puzzle (hint: it's on page 9). [Email your answer to]

    So download below for all the essentials for the coming academic year.

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  • The Empire of Death

    Wed, 28 Sep 2011 11:56

    blog imageThames and Hudson have just published the wonderful The Empire of Death - A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses - "Takes the reader on an international tour of macabre and devotional architectural masterpieces in nearly 20 countries. This book brings together some of the world's most important charnel sites, ranging from the crypts of the Capuchin monasteries in Italy, to the strange tomb of a 1960s wealthy Peruvian nobleman."

    So what better time to revisit the wonderful Svankmajer film from 1970, The Ossuary, filmed in the old chapel of Sedlec, Czech Republic...

    Posted by Adam Adam


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  • Of Lice and Men

    Fri, 16 Sep 2011 15:02

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    My parents live in a very idyllic thatched cottage in Dorset on England's south coast. Recently, and at great expense and bother the thatch needed to be replaced, and a very professional job was done by the local thatchers.

    Only some days later did things start crawling from the roof. Actually just one type of thing - just thousands and thousands of them. Distressed by not being able to see much through the windows due to the bodies of crawling mites and concerned by the thought that they were devouring the new thatch, my father wrote to (as you would) the Science Advisor to the National Society of Master Thatchers. Some correspondence ensued and with some examples of dead mites sent through the post, the culprits were identified as booklice (Liposcelis bostrychophila). The science advisor reassured that they were not eating the thatch, indeed it was somewhat of a mystery as to how they got in the reed at all.

    He also supplied some fantastic pictures of the sample sent through - which I thought, given the name of the beast, might be of interest!

    (With many thanks to Dr Roger Angold)

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    For little boys around the age of six going to the movies can have a momentous impact. Those little boys will always remember the unbelievable excitement and the wonder of that early experience and often spend the rest of their lives, in vain, trying to find that feeling again.

    The first three Star Wars movies from 1977 to 1983 pretty much cover the age range of most of the men of a certain age in the Book Depository basement, we were all about six during those six years. So when Moleskine announced they were bringing out a special edition Star Wars notebook, that familiar twinge of excitement and anticipation was felt around the office.

    And then, when Moleskine made this promo video of a Star Wars origami battle... You can guess the rest.

    Let's hope these lovely new notebooks can provide some small condolence in our search for moments of lightness and joy on the long journey away from childhood... BECAUSE THEY'RE AWESOME!!!!!!!!

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