Monthly Archives: November 2016

A Fantastical Guide to Mythical Creatures


If you have fans of fantastical beasts or ferocious dragons then let me take you on a voyage of discovery  across ancient lands and civilisations to discover the worlds of an amazing array of mythical creatures. Featuring a mythical colour and discover book, a handbook for aspiring dragon keepers and an interactive guide to dragons there is something for everyone to enjoy and explore.

The Book of Beasts  Colour and Discover- Angela Rizza & Jonny Marx


Filled with hundreds of mythical monsters from around the world. The Book of Beasts will take readers on an epic colouring quest through ancient lands and lore. Divided into four chapters featuring creatures associated with earth, water, wind and fine, you can discover the very best beasts including the menacing Minotaur, colossal Kraken, loathsome Leviathan, many-headed Hydra and more. Beautifully presented in a stunning hardback cover embossed with foiled gold it is a treasure trove of information that will fascinate and inform. Each page is filled with stunning, intricate illustrations of awesome beasts  and fantastical creatures waiting to be coloured and discovered.

The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook – Mónica Armino


Imagine a parcel arriving in the post containing a mysterious object. Upon opening this box you find a dragon’s egg inside with a note declaring that your application to become a Grand Master Dragon Keeper has been successful! This handbook takes you through the journey filled with adventure, treasure hunting, peril and almost certain death as you embark on this difficult path. Packed full of fabulous lift-the-flaps and glorious pop-outs this book is joy to behold. We were fascinated and entertained in equal measures by this glorious book.

Build the Dragon – Templar Publishing 


If after reading ‘The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook’ you are longing for your very own dragon, well look no further than ‘Build The Dragon’. Enter the magical realm of dragons with a beautifully illustrated guide and a 3D model. Construct your very own creature, then wind up the motor and watch it come to life! Containing just the right amount of detail the book lets us find out everything we need to know about dragons, from myths and legends, to anatomy, behaviour and supernatural powers. Wonderfully accessible, the interactive element provides an interesting alternative to encourage reluctant readers to want to discover more about their new pet.

Thank you to Buster Books and Templar Publishing for sending me copies of these books.


A Celebration of Children’s Non-Fiction for Older Readers


To celebrate National Non-Fiction November I have chosen some fantastic fact books to inform and engage even the most curious of older children. Each of these books have been specially chosen for their intricate details and exquisite illustrations which are bound to delight the most inquisitive child.

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World – Kate Pankhurst


Kate Pankhurst, descendant of Emmeline Pankhurst, has created this wonderful book which takes readers on an exciting journey where they will meet  extraordinary women who have managed to achieve amazing things. Fly through the sky with Amelia Earheart, swim the English Channel with Gertrude Ederle and walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs with Mary Anning. Stuffed full of stunning, detailed illustrations and astounding information this provides a perfect introduction to some of the women, who have changed history. An exceptional read, it is  one of my favourite non-fiction books of the year and it deserves to be in every primary school library.

Knowledge Encyclopedia Animal – DK Books


If your child is currently loving the ‘Planet Earth’ series then they will love this glorious book which brings the animal kingdom to life with the most incredible, informative details. Encounter every kind of creature from the tiny water flea, to the mighty blue whale. Discover animal life in amazing 3D images, right down to the shimmering scales on a butterfly’s wing, the jagged edge of a tiger’s tooth, and the posion spur of a platypus. Find out how ants communicate, what penguins do to protect their young, and why chameleons change colour. This book has been an instant hit in my family who love nothing better than spending hours filling themselves full of facts. A treasure trove of amazing information, yet again DK Books hits the spot with the perfect book for animal lovers.

Botanicum – Katie Scott & Kathy Willis


Welcome to ‘Botanicum’, a wondrous plant museum from Katie Scott, the illustrator of the wondrous ‘Animalium’ and Kathy Willis the Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens . This museum is open all hours. It houses an extraordinary collection of plants and fungi, from tiny algae to trees that tower up to eighty metres high. So how did plants evolve? How did Earth reach the diversity of plant life we see today? Step inside to explore the plant kingdom in all its glory. This divine celebration of plants features a colourful array of intricate and dazzling illustrations combined with comprehensive botanical knowledge. Beautifully presented in a large, high quality format this is a book that the whole family can enjoy.

Highest Mountain, Deepest Ocean – Page Tsou


Do you know how cold the coldest place on Earth is? Or how deep the deepest land animal goes? Do you know which creature was the largest to have roamed the earth? Or how old the oldest tree is? Find out the answers to these and much more in this pictorial compendium of natural wonders. This book has a vintage feel with its muted palette of colours that make you feel like you’re dipping into a long forgotten masterpiece from the past. Yet it still manages to feel contemporary with its combination of historical and current facts. A visual feast for the eyes which will satisfy the curiosity of children seeking to uncover the many wonders of our world.

Thank you to Big Picture Press and DK Books for sending me copies of these books.

National Non-Fiction November 2016


To celebrate National Non-Fiction November 2016 The Federation of Children’s Book Groups has drawn up a list of 100 of the most exciting, intriguing, eye-opening non-fiction books for children and young people of all ages, books to delight, inspire and make you gasp (or even giggle) in wonder.

With the support of a wide range of non-fiction publishers, The FCBG has teamed up with World Book Day for a spectacular giveaway – the sort that will instantly create an incredible library packed with true adventures through time and space, bursting at the seams with titles to feed curiosity, amazement and delight in the real world.

Find full details of the giveaway (including how to nominate organisations or enter as individuals) and download the full ‘100 Brilliant Non-Fiction Books for Children and Young People’ list on the World Book Day website:

A celebration of Children’s Non-Fiction for Younger Readers


To celebrate National Non-Fiction November I have chosen some fantastic fact books to inform and entertain the most curious of young minds. Each of these books are wonderfully interactive and feature the most vibrant illustrations to capture the imaginations of the reader.

On the Trail of the Whale/ Where is the Bear? – Camila de la Bédoyère             with illustrations by Richard Watson & Emma Levey


Set out on an amazing adventure through forests and oceans all over the world to help Otto the Octupus and Suki the Artic Hare on their intrepid missions to find Hula the Humpback Whale and a Panda named Ping. Follow the clues, complete the activities, whilst discovering new habitats and species. Combining lively rhymes with intriguing information and engaging illustrations the ‘Super Search Adventure’ series allows the most eager explorer to travel our planet using their very best spotting skills to identify creatures along the way. This will provide hours of interactive fun learning and the wipe-clean fold out covers means they can relive their adventures over and over again.

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things – DK Books


For little learners who want to know everything, this comprehensive encyclopedia contains hundreds of exciting facts on animals, people, places and the planet we live on. It makes the perfect first compendium featuring easy to navigate layouts making it accessible to younger readers.  Parents no longer need to worry when faced by those difficult questions “why does the moon change its shape?” or “why does it rain?” Children will be enthralled by unbelievable insights such as Blue Whales need to eat 40 million krill a day to feel full up and they are bigger than even the biggest dinosaur. Featuring bright and colourful illustrations this is an irresistible information book which would make a brilliant addition to any home or primary school library.

One Is Not A Pair – Britta Teckentrup & Katie Haworth


‘One Is Not A Pair’ is a delightful, captivating spotting book inviting children to find the thing that’s not a pair. Each page is filled with rhyming riddles and sumptuous spreads to excite and challenge. it’s not as easy as it may look to spot the odd one out as the differences are more subtle than you would expect thus providing a  more complex matching book for slightly older children. Stunningly illustrated in Britta Teckentrup’s eye catching and unique style and beautifully presented, this is an absolute gem of a book.

Animal Surprises – Nicola Davies & Abbie Cameron


‘Animal Surprises’ invites us to follow a young adventurer as she treks through the jungle, dives deep down into the sea and climbs high up into the trees. The key to this tale is that it is full of the unexpected introducing children to magnificent and diverse habitats where they will discover creatures of all shapes and sizes, some they know and some surprises. Bold and bright illustrations by Abbie Cameron combined with the specialist knowledge of zoologist and writer Nicola Davies captured in enchanting rhyme,  make this book a must have buy.  Excitingly, this book is part of a series and also includes ‘The Word Bird’ and ‘Into the Blue.’

An Animal ABC – Alice Pattullo


There is a wealth of alphabet and animal books for younger readers but ‘An Animal ABC’ by Alice Pattullo really caught my attention with its magical menagerie of animals. Each letter of the alphabet is exquisitely  illustrated with a different and often curious animal. It reads aloud magnificently with the lyrical, rhyming text enchanting the listener keeping them captivated throughout. Unusual facts punctuate the pages offering the chid a unique introduction to each of the animals. Vibrant and insightful this book deserves to be treasured.

Thank you to Graffeg, Miles Kelly, Pavilion Books. Big Picture Press and DK Books for sending me copies of these books.

National Non-Fiction November 2016


To celebrate National Non-Fiction November 2016 The Federation of Children’s Book Groups
has drawn up a list of 100 of the most exciting, intriguing, eye-opening non-fiction books for
children and young people of all ages, books to delight, inspire and make you gasp (or even
giggle) in wonder.

With the support of a wide range of non-fiction publishers, The FCBG has teamed up with
World Book Day for a spectacular giveaway – the sort that will instantly create an incredible
library packed with true adventures through time and space, bursting at the seams with titles to feed curiosity, amazement and delight in the real world.

Find full details of the giveaway (including how to nominate organisations or enter as individuals) and download the full ‘100 Brilliant Non-Fiction Books for Children and Young People’ list on the World Book Day website.


The Great Chocoplot – Chris Callagahan


Can you imagine a world without chocolate, no delicious Double Deckers,  sugary Smarties or huge slabs of Dairy Milk? In ‘The Great Chocoplot’ by Chris Callagahan chocolate expert Professor Fizziwicks  proclaims on national TV that it is the end of chocolate for good. In five days time a  “cataclysmic cacao catastrophe” otherwise known as a ‘Chocopocalypse’ will occur. Armed with a bar of chocolate (for research purposes only) I set off to find out just what was going on, to see if I can unravel this mystery and ascertain once and for all is this really the end of chocolate as we know it.

Jelly and her family live in Chompton-on-de-Lyte, which is at the centre of the chocolate world. According to local legend, Sir Walter Waffle became lost and instead of sailing into the Thames with his ship filled with newly discovered chocolate he ended up on the River de Lyte instead.  So when the end of chocolate is announced, Jelly can’t believe it. Determined to investigate, with her in tow they follow a trail of clues to a posh chocolate shop and its owner, the pompous Garibaldi Chocolati. Gari’s suspiciously smug, despite his failing business and yucky chocolate. Is it really the chocopocalypse, or is there a chocoplot afoot?

‘The Great Chocoplot’ is a fun filled adventure that will make you smile as much as a selection box on Christmas Day. Featuring a marvellous cast of characters, from the eccentric Wellington family to the cantankerous Mrs Bunstable and the truly sinister Garibaldi Chocolati, this is a engaging and endearing read. Not only do we have an exciting case to crack we are also treated to the realities of family life, which gives the story a real heart and soul.  Things are tough for the Wellington family, Jelly’s Dad is unemployed, her Mum is working night shifts at the supermarket and Gran since the death of Grandad is consigned to life in the Gran-a Van. Yet despite all this our plucky and spirited heroine Jelly is determined to stop at nothing to uncover the truth behind this sinister plot. Stuffed full of laugh out loud moments with plenty of subtle humour squeezed in for the grown ups this book is a real delight, I absolutely loved it! A huge shout out to the illustrator Lalalimola whose lively, energetic illustrations and striking cover capture perfectly the chaos and confusion that is caused by the mystery of the great chocoplot.

To find out more about Chris Callaghan visit his website or follow him on Twitter @callaghanstuff

To find out more about Lalalimola visit her website or follow her on Twitter @lalalimola






Cautionary Tales in Picture Books


When deciding what books I’m going to blog about on a weekly basis, there are so many factors that influence me but one of the biggest factors is my children. They often read my book post before I have a chance to even look at it and are quite adamant that I should write about books they’ve really loved.  My 8 year old daughter is currently enjoying ‘Jim a Cautionary Tale’ by Hilaire Belloc with exquisite illustrations by Mini Grey at school and demanded more cautionary tales. So I set off to try and discover more of these tales for her to devour. In amongst my book post I found these fantastic books that are decidedly dark and delicious with just enough wickedness to delight and entertain even very young children.

There’s No Such Thing As A Snappenpoop – Jeanne Willis & Matt Saunders


Little Brother wants to join the fun but Big Brother won’t let him play. To try and get rid of his annoying Little Brother he sends him off on seemingly impossible tasks “fetch me a unicorn…a lion with wings…and a triceratops.” But each time Little Brother brings back the impossible and demands that he be allowed to play. Failing miserably to succeed in getting rid of him, Big Brother sends him on one last mission to find the scariest monster a Snappenpoop, knowing fine well there is no such thing as a Snappenpoop…..or is there?

Jeanne Willis has created a brilliantly funny tale designed to show the danger of being unkind and mean. We know that Big Brother is bound to get his comeuppance and the twist at the end of the tale will definitely  provoke glee in the reader. Matt Saunders stunning, vibrant illustrations are wondrously dark and foreboding creating just the right atmosphere, building tension as the story nears its conclusion. An excellent book to stimulate children’s imaginations, encouraging them to create their own quests for weird and wonderful creatures and designing their own scariest monsters. A marvellous addition to any school library.

Lucinda Belinda Melinda McCool – Jeanne Willis & Tony Ross


Lucinda Belinda Melinda McCool is the most beautiful girl in the whole of the school but inside lies a girl who likes nothing better than to point out the faults of everyone she knows. “You have ears like an ape…kindly get rid of your warts….your bottom’s too big for those shorts.” Nobody is safe when it comes her thoughtless and harsh comments not even the terrible, hideous beast who lives in the woods. But looks are not everything as Lucinda is about to discover…

This hilarious tale is a joy to read aloud, I loved watching the children’s reactions every time Lucinda passed judgement on everyone’s appearances. Clearly understanding that her advice was more hurtful than helpful, we all agreed that she really was not a nice person at all. There was an audible gasp when Lucinda told the monster that she was “better off dead” than being ugly and messy. Providing fantastic opportunities to build towards the dramatic ending, the dialogue is bold and exaggerated and so much fun capturing the fierceness of the monster before Lucinda meets her early demise. Tony Ross’s illustrations are witty and hilarious, his wonderful expressions portray the personalities of the characters perfectly.  A superb treat of a tale which deserves to be shared over and over again.

Thank you to Little Tiger Press and Andersen Press for sending my copies of these fantastic books.

Cover Reveal – Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink by Jennifer Killick

I’m really excited to be sharing with you today the cover of Jennifer Killick’s hilarious debut middle grade novel, ‘Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink’ will be published on the 8th June 2017  by Firefly Press.

So without further ado here it is…….


I love this vibrant cover designed by Alex Dimond, featuring the artwork of Heath McKenzie. Full of energy and humour, it hints at the mischief and chaos that Alex and Jess will face as they try to unravel the mystery that is affecting their whole school. Let’s find out exactly what the ‘really big stink’ is in this exciting new laugh out loud fantasy school adventure.

Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink

Alex Sparrow is a super-agent in training. He is also a human lie-detector. Working with Jess – who can communicate with animals – they must find out why their friends – and enemies – are all changing into polite and well behaved pupils. And exactly who is behind it all. It’s a funny, middle grade novel  packed full of humour and superhero references. Oh, and a rather clever goldfish called Bob. In a world where kid’s flaws and peculiarities are being erased out of existence, Alex and Jess must rely on what makes them different to save the day.

Jennifer Killick


Jennifer Killick has always wanted to be a writer, but really started when she applied for a Creative Writing MA at Brunel University, which is where she first got the idea for ‘The Really Big Stink’. She lives in Uxbridge, in a house full of children, animals and Lego. When she isn’t busy mothering or step-mothering (which isn’t often) she loves to read, write and run, as fast as she can. Jennifer’s favourite things are books, trees and fluffy slippers, and her favourite place in the world is her home, where she can sit in her pyjamas with tea and cake, coming up with story ideas.

Thank you to Jennifer and Firefly Press for inviting me to do the cover reveal, I can’t wait to get my hands on this book I think it will be hugely appealing and I will definitely be adding this to my school library.

You can find Jennifer Killick on Twitter @JenniferKillick

You can find Heath McKenzie on Instagram heath.mckenzie or visit his website

You can find Alex Dimond on Twitter @alexplosion

Winter Magic curated by Abi Elphinstone


‘Winter Magic’ is an enchanting collection of delectable short stories from an amazing array of children’s writers which captures completely  the adventure, mystery, excitement and joy of this wondrous season.  A stunning cover from Thomas Flintham hints at the magic lying within these glittering pages. Get ready to fly with snow dragons, dance with the Nutcracker, skate over a frozen Thames and have your dreams come true by a wishing book. So wrap up warm, make yourself a warming drink of hot chocolate and allow yourself to be swept away by these irresistible tales. Like the very best box of chocolates you will be spoilt for choice as you deliberate over what to read first, the contents are so delicious.

With a marvellous mixture of historical and contemporary settings every story is wonderfully different each of them giving us a different insight of the magic of winter. I was captivated by the twisted fairy tales in Berlie Doherty’s ‘Someone Like the Snow Queen and Jamila Gavin’s ‘Into the Mountain’. These sublime retellings of the Snow Queen and Pied Piper will excite and delight lovers of traditional tales. Mystery and boarding school fans will be intrigued by Lauren St John’s ‘The Room with the Mountain View’. Snowy mountains and  sleds pulled by huskies with eerily beautiful blue eyes promises an unforgettable experience for the reader. Emma Carroll and Katherine Woodfine whisk you back to a snowy past, filled with frozen rivers, twirling snowflakes and dreams of a happier future. Whilst Piers Torday and Michelle Harrison create timeless, contemporary almost cautionary fairy tales where we discover that we must be careful of what we wish for in life. Finishing with the magnificent ‘The Snow Dragon’ from Abi Elphinstone, an emotional tale brimming with danger, wonder and hope. Even the coldest of hearts will find themselves melting when they meet the fabulous Phoebe and Herb.

‘Winter Magic’ is the perfect gift and I’m sure any child would be thrilled to find this under their Christmas tree. Ideal for sharing with younger readers or for more confident readers to read independently. Choosing short stories to use in schools invites children to meet undiscovered authors opening up their minds to so many new adventures. I think this deserves a special place in every school library.

Thank you to Hannah Cooper and Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy of this gorgeous book.

Cover Reveal – The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge

I’m really excited to be sharing with you today the cover of the fantastically talented Christopher Edge’s new novel. ‘The Jamie Drake Equation’ from will be published on the 2nd March 2017 by Nosy Crow books.

So without further ado here it is……..


I love this stunning cover, the fabulous artwork has been created by Matt Saunders who was also responsible for ‘The Many Worlds of Albie Bright. It is definitely one of those covers that demands to be picked up and read and I’m intrigued to discover more about what lies inside.

The Jamie Drake Equation

How amazing would it be to have a dad who’s an astronaut? Rocket launches, zero gravity, and flying through space like a superhero! Jamie Drake’s dad is orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station and Jamie ought to think it’s cool but he just really misses him…

Hanging out at his local observatory Jamie picks up a strange signal on his phone. It looks like alien life is getting closer to home. But space is a dangerous place and when his dad’s mission goes wrong can Jamie prove that he’s a hero too? A cosmic adventure for anyone who’s ever looked at the stars.

Christopher Edge


Christopher grew up in Manchester where he spent most of his childhood in the local library dreaming up stories, but now lives in Gloucestershire where he spends most of his time in the local library dreaming up stories. Before becoming a writer, he worked as an English teacher, editor and publisher – any job that let him keep a book close to hand. He also works as a freelance publisher and education consultant and has written several publications about encouraging children to read.

To find out more about Christopher you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter

To find out more about Matt you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter

If you haven’t read ‘The Many Worlds of Albie Bright’ you can head over to my blog to discover why it made me laugh out loud, how it took my breath away and made me cry. It truly is a wonderful story which I loved reading and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of ‘The Jamie Drake Equation.’

Able Seacat Simon – Guest post Lynne Barrett-Lee


I am delighted to welcome Lynne Barrett-Lee to the blog today to talk about her favourite animal books. Lynne is the author of the wonderful animal tale ‘Able Seacat Simon’ a story inspired by real life events. When an orphaned kitten is discovered in the Hong Kong docks in 1948 by a British Sailor, he has no idea of the journey that awaits him. Smuggled onto HMS Amethyst and named ‘Simon’ by his new friends, the little cat quickly gets used to life on the seas and appoints himself chief rat-catcher. When tragedy strike, Seacat Simon keeps spirits up – but it’s a long and dangerous journey back to England for the heroic kitten and his crewmates. An endearing, heart warming tale which will make you smile and cry in equal measures.

My Favourite Animal Books – Lynne Barrett-Lee

Bambi; a life in the woods  – Felix Saltern

 Without question, this is my favourite animal book ever. I borrowed it from the library, just before my 8th birthday, feeling that familiar cocktail of excitement and trepidation – it was such a very big book and the writing was so small. It was not the book-of-the-film – I hadn’t even seen the film at this point because there were no DVDs then – rather, it was the novel on which Walt Disney based his famous movie, and, like almost all books, there was so much more to it. I remember sitting in bed reading it on the morning of my birthday, tears streaming unchecked down my face.

To this day, seeing a deer – particularly if it’s a stag, heavily antlered  – I am taken straight back to Bambi’s beautiful, dangerous, unforgettable world.

Black Beauty –  Anna Sewell

 Another book that swept me away. I don’t remember how old I was when I read Black Beauty, only that I felt I’d entered into a very different world; one where cruelty and danger lurked around every corner. Which was absolutely as Anna Sewell intended, of course. And why her book help pave the way for social change.

Black Beauty was the first book I re-read after agreeing to write Able Seacat Simon, because I knew Black Beauty’s narrative voice would give me something to go on. He was exactly as I remembered him, too; dignified, gentle and always, always kind. And like Simon, he suffered, and bore his suffering stoically.

I particularly love the footnote to the edition – that it was ‘translated from the original equine’. A lovely touch.  A lovely book.

Comet in Moominland – Tove Jannson

 You’re right. Strictly speaking, a Moomintroll isn’t a real animal, any more than is a Snork Maiden or a Hemulen. Any more than yellow pears grow on blue trees. But as anyone with an ounce of imagination will tell you, just because you haven’t seen something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, and the animals of Moominvalley were very real to me when I was six. And also very precious. I still have my copy to this day, held together mostly by sticky tape and tenderness. The front page declares it to be on ‘special loan only’ from ‘Lynne’s Lending Library’. That’s how much I loved it. I still do.

The Hundred and One Dalmations – Dodie Smith

We were always a doggy family and we also lived in London, so there was never any question that I’d love this book.  I fell in love with all the characters – the sweet Dearlys, the two Nannies, brave Pongo and graceful Missis, but poor, plucky Perdita (who’d lost her Prince, and her puppies, to the evil Cruella) was my favourite. Selfless, strong and brave, she was a great role model for a little girl. I’ve had a soft spot for liver-spotted dalmations ever since.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C S Lewis

Perhaps not normally one you’d think of when considering books about animals, but, for me, Aslan the lion was and always will be the beating heart of this magical story. Such courage. Such wisdom. Such strength.  I remember it being introduced to it by one of my teachers, read to us in instalments, for a few beautiful minutes at the end of each school day. But I was much too impatient to know what was going to happen next, so I borrowed it from the library and gobbled the rest up in a day.  And yes, I did take a peek at the back of my wardrobe.

When I trained as a teacher myself, it was the first book I chose to read to my own pupils.  It was a privilege to share it with a new generation.

Blog Tour

You can join in with the rest of the blog tour for some more fantastic guest posts.




Black Powder – Ally Sherrick


‘Black Powder’ is the explosive debut from Ally Sherrick packed full of excitement, danger and intrigue. England 1605, Twelve year old Tom is in a terrifying race against time to save his father from the hangman’s noose. In desperation he makes a deal with a fearsome scarred stranger, know only as the Falcon. But unwittingly Tom finds himself caught up in one of the most famous plots in history. Not knowing who to trust or where to turn he is thrust into this murky world full of dangerous villains who will stop at nothing to further their cause. Torn between saving his father and being part of a heinous crime or saving the King, will Tom have the courage and conviction to make the right decision.

I was totally gripped by this fast paced historical adventure, full of twists and turns. There are plenty of heart stopping moments guaranteed to have the reader enthralled and totally absorbed. Taking real life events and weaving Tom’s fictional story into this famous tale makes for a fascinating and entertaining insight into the motivation of the conspirators. Although we know how the Gunpowder Plot plays out, this doesn’t detract from the tension as we race towards the dramatic finale.

Ally’s wonderful lyrical storytelling conjures up a vivid picture of London, a dark, dangerous grimy world. Her rich descriptions are filled with intricate details to stimulate of all your senses allowing you to be transported to a different time and place.  She has created a superb cast of characters who will prove irresistible to the reader. Tom’s bravery and tenacity are commendable, tested to his limits his single mindedness is extraordinary. Although the Falcon is the supposed villain of the piece he is not unsympathetic, despite any misgiving we may have as the story unravels. I do however have to mention the formidable Cressida who strives to be different in a time when girls where restricted and encouraged to conform. Her haughty condescending manner conceals a spirit and determination worthy of a true heroine, which I truly admire. Prepare yourself for a thrilling and energetic escapade.

You can read an extract from ‘Black Powder on the Chicken House website.

Thank you to Chicken House for sending me a copy of this book.


Ally Sherrick


Ally Sherrick loves exploring ruined castles and decaying mansions and imagining what it must have been like to live in them without electricity and hot and cold running water – although she’s quite glad she doesn’t have to herself!

She has a BA in medieval history and French from Newcastle University and an MA in Writing for Children at the University of Winchester.

She is married and lives with her husband and assorted garden wildlife in Farnham, Surrey. Black Powder is her first novel.