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  • Barry recommends... The Look

    Fri, 02 Mar 2012 09:23

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    Hooray for Heroines!

    I love sparky heroines, and determined young women who find their own way (often after a headlong dash in the other direction!). It's been my privilege to know the equally impressive creators of such remarkable creatures - Nina Bawden, Anne Fine, Jacqueline Wilson from these shores, and the brilliant Beverly Cleary in the USA. Sometimes they have been rather scary themselves, determined to use their wit and wisdom to make a point to this steady old editor chap! So I'm hugely proud to be able to introduce a new favourite to all their fans. Sophia Bennett has already shown with her bestselling THREADS series that fashion and compassion make a telling and emotional mix. Now her latest novel, THE LOOK, tells the heart-wrenching story of the contrasting fates of two sisters, set in the glamorous world of modelling. Real girl power and really good writing! Ideal for heroines (and some heroes) of 11+.

    'Have just read THE LOOK ... one word, BRILLIANT. A difficult topic, sensitively handled.' CATHY CASSIDY

    Watch Sophia reading from The Look:

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  • Barry recommends

    Wed, 01 Feb 2012 08:52

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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:

    I'm a huge fan of Dr Who and once worked with a poet who was an original Dalek and the voice of Davros! Anyone who adores that kind of open-minded storytelling that grips like a pincer, while surprising you with a wide-eyed jump of spectacular invention is going to appreciate Dr Who writer Daniel Bythe's new novel, Shadow Runners. Set in a deceptively normal seaside town, it soon ducks and dives around paranormal goings on - before revealing a very surprising twist indeed! It's perfect for all young TV and film fans who adore the unexpected, love cool dialogue and, above all, enjoy guessing who is - and who isn't - the force of evil!

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  • Chocolate factories

    Mon, 09 Jan 2012 10:02

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    CHOCOLATE FACTORIES, BOARDING SCHOOLS, AND THE WORLD'S WILDEST HOTEL.

    When I was at Puffin Books, Roald Dahl used to tease me about my beard - he called me the real Mr Twit, and said that I only had to eat one meal a day as most of it ended up in my whiskers! His form of tough love appealed to children everywhere. He told the truth about adults, greedy children, bullies, and possibly facial hair, and he always championed the underdog! His masterpieces also had the most exciting of settings, from an extraordinary chocolate factory to a giant peach!

    If your children love vivid settings and captivating adventures then try two marvellous writers from the USA. Trenton Lee Stewart's New York Times bestselling MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY is a much-loved story that celebrates unusual talents, in which four unlikely young heroes go undercover to test their ingenuity and puzzle-solving skills against arch foes. Set in a boarding school on a remote island, which is actually a façade for a sinister organisation, this will really enliven their imagination.

    Or there's Patrick Carman's brand new book, FLOORS. His setting is the strangest hotel in the world, with hidden floors, a different challenge on each one - and unexpected ducks! Like chocolate factories, hotels are alive with adventurous possibilities - perfect for any 8 to 12 year-old reader to move into!

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  • Zombies and Christmas

    Fri, 09 Dec 2011 10:21

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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!

    "Some of my favourite authors have loved scary stories - I remember Roald Dahl telling me even more terrifying versions of his Tales of the Unexpected stories in the back of his car while coming back late on tour for Penguin Books. There's something about snow and wintertime that makes cosying up with a terrifying but comforting story even more fun! So if you've got older children or younger teens who love the frighteners in movies and books, then they - and you - will adore Kirsty McKay's UNDEAD, where zombies really make a meal of the school trip. And if you find yourself hiding under the covers, why not check out Kirsty's top tips to help you survive the zombie apocalypse..."

    'Fast, furious, freaky, funny...' CHARLIE HIGSON, author of The Enemy

    'Twilighters will love it... hysterically funny, suspenseful and altogether superior fare.' Amanda Craig, The Times

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  • blog image

    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 - Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

    I was very privileged to work with the estate of C.S. Lewis (in fact, he went to my old school) and see some of the manuscripts of the wonderful NARNIA series with his original notes. I also met Pauline Baynes, the original illustrator who drew the first maps of Narnia, visualising his extraordinary world. Travelling from the here and now to a land of wonder, where making new friends is as important as standing up to evil, required what C.S. Lewis called 'valour'. And that's what readers will need - and will love - as they travel literally through the pages of a book into Cornelia Funke's fantastic world of INKHEART. Here they will join an amazing cast of characters - deciding whose side you are on is just as exciting as in Narnia, even though things turn out not to be quite so black and white! For ages 9+

    '... a breathtakingly fast-moving tale.' INDEPENDENT

    '... one of the outstanding children's novels of the year.' THE TIMES

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