Tag Archives: children’s novels

Book Review: The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

I’m a long way beyond the target audience age range for this book but I enjoy reading children’s fiction; sometimes it’s the perfect switch-off at the end of a busy day. All the best children’s novels are just as good to read as an adult – good writing, good characterisation, plot structure and so on are the main requirements. If a book can meet all those elements I don’t mind who it’s aimed at.

do not read small

WARNING:
DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS PAGE

A good opener. I was intrigued. If a book can grab my attention at page one then I’ll read on, whatever the subject. This was just too intriguing. ‘Do not read beyond this page’. Nothing could be more likely to make me want to keep reading than an instruction telling me not to! A great means to get the reader to buy or borrow the book and see what happens next.

“Generally speaking, books don’t cause much harm. Except when you read them, that is. Then they cause all kinds of problems.
Books can, for example, give you ideas. I don’t know if you’ve ever had an idea before, but, if you have, you know how much trouble an idea can get you into.

Books can also provoke emotions. And emotions are sometimes even more troublesome than ideas. Emotions have led people to do all sorts of things they later regret…” [from the first page]

I like the way the author talks to the reader, telling us the book is dangerous. There’s a secret in the book and knowing this is worse than not knowing. Of course we’re supposed to read on!

Cass (short for Cassandra) is quite a serious and a very practical 11 year old. She is always prepared for an emergency and carries around a backpack containing items to help with surviving all kinds of disasters; her ‘survival’ kit. Cass has two surrogate grandpas who live near her house in an old abandoned fire station, where they also run an old antiques store. This is one of Cass’s favourite places and she spends her Wednesdays after school here, supposedly helping in the shop but really listening to the grandpas’ stories and exploring some of the antiques.

Max-Ernest, also 11 years old, fancies himself as a bit of a comedian but his classmates aren’t as amused by his jokes as he is. Max-Ernest is always on the lookout for someone to try his jokes out on at school and looking around the school yard one day, he can only see one pupil who hasn’t yet heard his current joke; sitting alone at the edge of a field is Cass. Cass isn’t lonely; she’s investigating a finding on the field which she thinks may spell doom and disaster for the school. Cass is convinced that the school has been built on top of a toxic waste dump. She loves to imagine disaster scenarios and it frequently gets her into trouble with the headteacher.

This meeting on the playing field is the beginning of a friendship between Cass and Max-Ernest and spells the beginning of their adventures. They end up trying to uncover a mysterious secret, involving a rare antique case of vials of smells, a missing magician and his diary and a suspicious estate agent called Gloria Fortune. The pair find themselves embroiled deeper and deeper in this mystery as it leads them on some quite perilous adventures, needing their wits, decoding skills, intuition and escape capabilities. I won’t reveal any more but I can recommend reading the book to find out their SECRET.

The first in a series, this book is followed by:
2. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
3. This Book Is Not Good For You
4. This Isn’t What It Looks Like
5. You Have To Stop This

Recommended for ages 8+

About the Author

Pseudonymous Bosh is a pseudonym, or pen name and it belongs to American author Raphael Simon. He has written other books under the Pseudonymous Bosch name – the Bad series and a stand-alone children’s novel, Write This Book. To find out more, have a look at his website www.pseudonymousbosch.com

Where to Buy

You can buy the series from your local independent bookshop, or you can buy online from hive.co.uk and still support your local independent bookshop by nominating them to receive a percentage of your sale on Hive. Shop local, where possible, to help keep your High Streets alive. The Name of This Book is Secret is currently available as a new paperback, RRP £6.99 ISBN 9781409583820. At Books & Ink Bookshop most of our new books are for sale at a discounted price. We also have a large second-hand stock.

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Review: Trickster by Tom Moorhouse

Trickster Front Cover
Trickster by Tom Moorhouse

I read – and loved! – Tom’s first book,The River Singers, which was published in 2013, snapped up the sequel, The Rising, as soon as it came out and when his latest book, Trickster, was published on the 4th February I bought myself a copy straight away. I enjoyed reading Trickster so much that I stayed up ridiculously late to finish it (cue, bleary-eyed bookseller in the morning!).

Now, I don’t want to sound all gushing or anything… but I just genuinely really like Tom’s style of writing, the depth of knowledge and research that goes into his stories and… well… just his great characterisation and storytelling. He writes nature stories for kids of the twentyteens and he does it really well. Think Farthing Wood, Watership Down, Rats of Nimh, The Wind in the Willows, Joyce Stranger’s stories and so on – but, dare I say it… after all I grew up on all these wonderful animal stories… in my opinion he does it even better. I loved all these other stories – and still do – but Tom’s stories are real. I feel like I’ve learned a whole heap about water voles from reading The River Singers and The Rising but not intentionally; it’s the stories that shine but the ecological information just sort of filters into the brain as well. It’s genius.

Trickster is a story about two brother rats, Ash and Gabble, growing up from being young flapfeet, to I suppose adolescent ratlings, to growing into being full grown rats. Rats. Yes. I detest rats. Now, water voles (the subject of The River Singers) were cute but I’ve always hated rats. I shouldn’t get on with this book at all, right? – No. Wrong. Once I’d got the idea of rats out of my mind, it didn’t matter at all that this was a story about animals that I really dislike; the story is good enough to overcome that. It helped that I had grown quite fond of a kindly old rat in The River Singers and The Rising and it turned out that Trickster is the story of that very same rat.

There is absolutely no need to read the other two books before you read Trickster; it stands completely by itself as a novel. In fact, you might even call it a prequel of sorts as it looks at a young Fo’dur’s life (aka Gabble – the sensible brother) but you don’t need to read these books in sequence at all. I highly recommend that you do read them all but it’s not necessary to have read the other two before you read Trickster.

So, where was I? Yes, Ash and Gabble. Ash is a troublesome young rat; he gets into scrapes, has a very independent, adventurous, even reckless streak and likes to test all the boundaries. Moreover, he’s white and the rest of his clan are more ordinary brown rats, so Ash stands out physically as well as by his behaviour. Gabble is a more sensible rat shall we say and is very protective of his difficult brother and tries to be a stabilising influence, though Ash makes this as difficult as he possibly can. Ash’s adventurous streak takes him and his brother off on food raids before they are ready and exploring territories out of bounds to their rat clan. He brings trouble on his own community when neighbouring rat clans want to fight. Gabble does all he can to save his brother and his clan. Will it be enough?…

Like I say, a great story and it also touches on some good themes; such as fitting in, independence, following one’s own path while being considerate to others, communities, difference and acceptance. There are subtle messages that can be taken from the story, or it can just be enjoyed as the good adventurous story that is. I would recommend it for the 8-12 age range but …well, let’s just say I’m considerably (ahem) outside of that range and I loved it. I’ll recommend it for those aged 8-108 instead! If I had to rate Trickster, it would get a full 10/10 from me.

About the Author

[From the blurb inside the back cover] Tom Moorhouse lives in Oxford. When not writing fiction he works as an ecologist at Oxford University’s Zoology Department. Over the years he has met quite a lot of wildlife. Most of it tried to bite him. He loves hiking up mountains, walking through woods, climbing on rocks, and generally being weather-beaten outdoors.

Where to Buy

You can buy Trickster from your local independent bookshop, or you can buy online from hive.co.uk and still support your local independent bookshop by nominating them to receive a percentage of your sale on Hive. Shop local to keep your High Streets alive. It’s out in paperback, RRP £6.99.

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Trickster, with The River Singers and The Rising by Tom Moorhouse

 

Tom Adderbury
Tom Moorhouse giving a talk at Adderbury Literary Festival, November 2013