A couple of years ago, I geekily set out to read a sizeable stack of Michael Morpurgo’s bestselling children’s books back-to-back. Why? I wanted to work out why this author in particular had me in tears with every single story I read. I was dying to know if he had some kind of formula, and if I could work it out. Actually, I think I did spot a few patterns, but it seems a bit cynical to go into those here!
Fantastic news here for all Jonathan Franzen fans after a five-year wait! His new novel called Purity will be out in September 2015. The author seduced both critics and the reading public with his book The Corrections in 2001, and was instantly recognised as an important new voice in American literature.
I have been completely enthralled by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh’s bestselling book Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery. Brain surgeons are awe-inspiring, almost God-like people with razor sharp minds and nerves of steel, and Marsh is one of the very best. In this book he gives a fascinating insight into his job and with moving candour describes the triumphs as well as the disasters. You’ll never think about your brain in quite the same way… Read full Review
As you’re aware, I’m a big David Mitchell fan and I know many of you out there like him too. I’ve just finished his latest book, The Bone Clocks, and I’m left with mixed feelings. The book has moments of pure Mitchellesque brilliance: fast-paced dialogue, inventive characters and addictive plots. The first four parts (there are six) were compulsive reading; the last two might delight sci-fi lovers, but sadly didn’t quite work for me.
This is a seriously bizarre children’s book. It reminds me of an activity I do with children to help them get ideas for a silly story. They pull a main character, setting and plot out of a hat, then try to weave them together into a story that makes some kind of sense.
Bookstoker Young Readers
I have a hunch that Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian will feature on many of your children’s back-to-school reading lists, a classic choice for English teachers everywhere since it was first published in 1981. Perhaps some of you even remember it from your own schooldays. I’ve been revising our school reading lists and spied Goodnight Mr Tom on our Year 7 list. I hadn’t read it since I was in Year 7 myself, and I wanted to find out why it’s such a permanent fixture in our children’s literary canon.
My pupils and I have been waiting for Chris Riddell’s sequel to Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, and here it is, cleverly launched in time for Hallowe’en. At my local Waterstone’s, copies of the chocolate-box, gilded hardback are displayed with cobwebs and spiders and fairy cakes (the latter not traditionally associated with Hallowe’en, true, but all will become clear).