Monthly Archives: March 2016

Flawed Book Trailer

Flawed is the debut YA novel from bestselling author, Cecilia Ahern.  I’ve read  and enjoyed some of Cecilia’s adult fiction so I’m very curious to see how well she writes for teens.  The blurb and book trailer sound really interesting so I can’t wait to read this one.

Flawed is out in April from HarperCollins.

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Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions.

She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

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The Little Kiwi’s Matariki by Nikki Slade Robinson

Matariki books for children are always in high demand.  There are only a couple that are suitable for introducing Matariki to preschoolers, while also being a fun story.  Nikki Slade Robinson has just released a wonderful new Matariki book, The Little Kiwi’s Matariki, that is perfect for sharing with our young tamariki.

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In The Little Kiwi’s Matariki, Kiwi wakes up to the moon shining deep into her burrow.  She knows that something is different from other nights and sets off to tell everyone that ‘its coming.’  All of the other creatures tell Kiwi ‘Kao. No, no little Kiwi,’ it’s their tummy rumbling or their singing in their dreams.  They all follow Kiwi though, and when they get to the sea shore they see the light is coming from Matariki.  The book ends with a simple explanation of Matariki that is perfectly aimed at young tamariki.

The Little Kiwi’s Matariki is my new favourite Matariki book.  It’s perfect for introducing our young tamariki to Matariki in a fun way.  It is an ideal book for parents, teachers and librarians who want to share a bilingual book with their tamariki.  Nikki has included some basic te reo, alongside the English equivalent, which is great for those who aren’t confident speakers of te reo. Nikki has also used repeated refrains, like ‘Kao. No, no little Kiwi,’ that tamariki can join in with.

The illustrations are also very appealing to tamariki.  As well as Kiwi, there are lots of other native birds and a spider that tamariki will be familiar with, including Tūī , Ruru and Katipo.  Nikki has given each of them a distinct personality.  I especially love the Ruru’s huge eyes.  One of the other things I love about Nikki’s illustrations is the way that the moon and the stars of Matariki glow on the page.

My favourite aspect of Nikki’s book is the way that the different characters are used to highlight the different aspects of Matariki celebrations.  Tūī, for example, says ‘Matariki? Time for music and dance!’ This fits with Tūī’s personality, so you know that a lot of thought has gone into choosing the right creatures for the story.

If you only buy one Matariki book for your home, school or centre this year make it The Little Kiwi’s Matariki.

 

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Michael Morpurgo Month – Little Manfred by Michael Morpurgo

March is Michael Morpurgo Month, a celebration of one of the best storytellers (and one of my favourite authors).  Organised by Michael Morpurgo’s publisher, it is a chance to highlight the many wonderful stories that Michael has written. Here is one of my favourite Michael Morpurgo books.

I love both stories about war and stories about animals, which is my I love Michael Morpurgo.  Most of his stories are about war or animals and sometimes both.  His latest book is called Little Manfred and it’s about war, and a dog that sparks the memories of an old man.

It’s the summer of 1966 and Charley and her little brother, Alex, are walking their dog Manfred on the beach by their home when they notice two old men staring out to sea.  When the two men discover that their dog is called Manfred, this sparks the memories of Walter and he tells the children about his experiences during World War II.  Through Walter’s story, Charley and Alex learn about their mother’s past and her connection to Manfred, a German prisoner of war who was posted at her farmhouse when she was a little girl.

Michael Morpurgo has woven another amazing story of friendship, bravery, and forgiveness that transported me to another time and another place.   Whenever I read a Michael Morpurgo book it’s almost as if he is sitting on my couch or in the library beside me, telling me the story, because I can hear his voice in my head.  If you’ve ever seen one of his videos of him reading you’ll know that he’s got the perfect storytelling voice.  Michael Foreman’s illustrations, once again, perfectly match the story because they can be bright and happy or dark and gloomy.  I think Michael Morpurgo’s books are perfect for anyone and if you haven’t read any of his books, Little Manfred is a great one to start with.

 

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Interview with Christopher Edge

Christopher Edge is the author of many great books for kids, including the Penelope Tredwell books Twelve Minutes to Midnight, Shadows of the Silver Screen and The Black Crow Conspiracy.  Christopher’s latest book is the out-of-this-world, inter-dimensional adventure The Many Worlds of Albie Bright.  I absolutely love this book and you can read my review here on the blog.

I had some questions about The Many Worlds of Albie Bright that I wanted to ask Christopher and he has very kindly answered them for me.  Read on to find out if bananas are indeed radioactive, which Back to the Future film is Christopher’s favourite, and what’s the coolest thing that he has ever built.

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  • What inspired you to write The Many Worlds of Albie Bright?

Lots of things! One of the sparks was a popular science book I read called How To Destroy The Universe And 34 Other Really Interesting Uses of Physics. It described cancer as a ‘quantum killer’ and explained how this disease is caused by a single-cell in your body mutating and going rogue. This got me thinking about the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics which suggests that quantum events might happen in one universe but not a parallel universe, so I had the idea of a boy who might have lost his mother to cancer and how he might try to use quantum physics to find the parallel universe where she is still alive. From this spark I slowly built the story and thought about the different parallel worlds the boy might find and how his life might be subtly different in each one. When friends asked what I was writing, I told them it was like It’s A Wonderful Life, but with added quantum physics!

  • One of the things I love about your book is that there is lots of science in it. Did you have to do lots of research?

Back when I was at school, I got a grade D for GCSE Physics – so I’m not any kind of science whiz! But as an adult I’ve become fascinated by the wonders of the universe as expertly explained by scientists such as Brian Cox, Jim Al-Khalili, Michio Kaku and Brian Greene. The American physicist Richard Feynman once said, “If you think you understand quantum physics, you don’t understand quantum physics”, but thanks to a huge pile of books in my office by these and other expert authors, I’ve been able to pretend that I understand a little more than I did before I started writing The Many Worlds of Albie Bright. It was important to me that all the science mentioned in the book was real and accurately described, so I had the manuscript checked by a friend who’s a Professor of Particle Physics and also works at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Luckily he said it passed the test!

  • Are bananas really radioactive?

Amazingly, YES! All bananas contain potassium which is a natural source of radioactivity. This means that if you’re standing next to the fruit bowl in your kitchen and it’s got a banana in it, then every second you’ve got a chance of being blasted with a gamma ray of radioactivity. Don’t worry this is completely safe and won’t turn you into a radioactive banana-eating superhero! However, large shipments of bananas have been known to trigger false alarms when they pass through radiation monitors at ports and airports!

  • Albie uses just a computer, a Geiger counter, a cardboard box and a banana to travel between dimensions. What is the coolest thing you’ve ever built?

A Tusken Raider from Star Wars using toilet rolls and cardboard boxes!

  • Back to the Future gets a couple of mentions in your book. It’s obviously a favourite of yours (who can blame you?). Which movie is your favourite?

The first Back to the Future is obviously the best. In some ways I wish they’d have kept it at just one film as it’s just so perfect from start to finish, whereas I don’t feel that way about the second and third films. Having said that I do like the fact that in one of the parallel universes that Albie visits in the book there’s a cinema showing Back to the Future IV…

  • If you could travel to a different dimension what is one difference that you would like to see and one that you wouldn’t like to see?

Difference that I’d like to see: greater equality. Difference that I wouldn’t like to see: a universe where libraries no longer exist. #savelibraries!

  • What’s the thing you enjoy most about writing stories for young readers?

It’s funny, I spoke about this at the end of an interview I gave to Front Row on BBC Radio 4 and said that one of the things I like best about writing stories for young readers is that you have a fearless audience. Young readers aren’t a jaded audience – they’re an audience with high expectations, who will go with you anywhere if you can deliver on giving them a great story. And it’s a real honour to write for an audience like that.

To find out more about Christopher Edge and his books visit his website, www.christopheredge.co.uk.

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The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge

I’m sure we’ve all wished we could time travel so that we could go forwards or backwards in time.  Have you ever wished that you could travel to a different dimension?  Things would be different there.  In another dimension we could be living underwater, there might be no One Direction, or the world could be ruled by cats.  In Christopher Edge’s fantastic new book, The Many Worlds of Albie Bright, Albie just wants to find a dimension in which his mum is still alive.  He’s determined to find that dimension, and he’s going to do it with just a computer, a Geiger counter, a cardboard box and a banana.

 

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When Albie’s mum dies, it’s natural he should wonder where she’s gone. His parents are both scientists and they usually have all the answers. Dad mutters something about Albie’s mum being alive and with them in a parallel universe. So Albie finds a box, his mum’s computer and a rotting banana, and sends himself through time and space to find her.

In The Many Worlds of Albie Bright, Christopher Edge takes you on an inter-dimensional journey with lots of laughs and a whole lot of heart.  One moment you are laughing at Albie’s interactions with himself from another dimension and the next your heart is aching because you wish Albie could find his mum and find his way home. It is Albie’s longing to see his mum again that leads him to discovering her research in the garage and setting out to find her in another dimension.

Science plays an important part in the story.  Albie’s dad is a scientist who has his own TV show about the wonders of the universe, Albie’s mum was a scientist, so Albie knows a lot about science.  Christopher has woven information about all sorts of science in to the book, which I found really interesting.  I know a lot more now about the Large Hadron Collider and what scientists are trying to achieve with this from reading this book.  It’s a great book for those kids (especially boys) who like reading nonfiction but struggle to find something to read.

My favourite thing about this book is that its all about traveling through different dimensions rather than through time.  I haven’t come across a story like this before so it was a really interesting read.  I love the idea of things being different in different dimensions.  In a book written by his dad Albie reads that there could be just small differences between dimensions, but Albie discovers some big differences.  In one dimension Albie is a girl in a wheelchair, in another there are two moons orbiting Earth.  It was fun picking these differences when Albie traveled to another dimension.

Covers are extremely important for children’s fiction and I think Matt Saunders’ cover for The Many Worlds of Albie Bright is wonderful. It will certainly make the book jump off the shelf.

Grab a banana, a cardboard box and copy of The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and take the journey of a lifetime.

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Michael Morpurgo Month – A Medal for Leroy by Michael Morpurgo

March is Michael Morpurgo Month, a celebration of one of the best storytellers (and one of my favourite authors).  Organised by Michael Morpurgo’s publisher, it is a chance to highlight the many wonderful stories that Michael has written. Here is one of my favourite Michael Morpurgo books.

Michael Morpurgo has written some of my favourite stories – Private Peaceful, Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, and Shadow.  He one of the best storytellers around.  Michael’s latest book, A Medal for Leroy, is inspired by the life of Walter Tull, the only black officer to serve in the British Army in the First World War.

A_Medal_for_Leroy_PBMichael doesn’t remember his father, who died in a Spitfire over the English Channel. And his mother, heartbroken and passionate, doesn’t like to talk about him. But then Michael’s aunt gives him a medal and a photograph, which begin to reveal a hidden story.

A story of love, loss and secrets.

A story that will change everything – and reveal to Michael who he really is…

A Medal for Leroy is a story of war, love and family secrets.  Like many of Michael’s other stories, it’s told from the point of view of someone who is old (in this case Michael) looking back at his life and telling the reader the story of what happened.  I really like this style of storytelling because it makes you feel like you are just sitting down for a cup of tea with the main character while they tell you the story.  Michael tells us that he never knew his father because he died during the war, but his mother and his aunties love him very much.  When one of his aunties dies, she leaves a special package for Michael, full of family secrets.  In this package, Michael learns about his auntie’s life and about the father he never knew.  Her story is heart-breaking, but with moments of happiness and hope.

Once again, Michael Morpurgo has written an emotional story that you get caught up in.  Even though the war is happening, you hope that everything is going to be fine, that Martha will meet Leroy again, and her father will welcome her home.  As always, Michael presents the realities of war to portray what life was like during this horrible time.  Even though Michael has returned to a topic that he has written about many times before, A Medal for Leroy, is a different story and just as wonderful as his other war stories, like Private Peaceful, War Horse, and An Elephant in the Garden. You can read more about the person who inspired this story, Walter Tull, at the back of the book too.

 

 

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Mango and Bambang: Tapir All at Sea by Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy

I love illustrated fiction for younger readers. The illustrations add extra depth and humour to the text.  There are more and more of these types of books being published, which gives newly independent readers so much choice.  In my role in the library I’m always looking out for new books to promote to young readers (Years 3-5) and the Mango and Bambang series written by Polly Faber and illustrated by Clara Vulliamy is one of the best. The second book in the series, Mango and Bambang: Tapir All at Sea, was released here in NZ this month, bringing us more wonderful stories of these two friends.

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Mango Allsorts is a girl good at all sorts of things, especially helping a tapir feel at home in a busy city. Bambang is that tapir and he s getting braver every day. Join then for their daring escapades, involving dogs, dancing, diamond rings and a dangerous old enemy.

Tapir All at Sea is book two in this brilliant series for younger readers.

Everyone’s favourite not-a-pig is back with more charming, funning stories in Mango and Bambang: Tapir All at Sea.  This second book is just as wonderful as the first, making me love the series even more.  These stories have the perfect mix of fun, laughs, silliness and adventure.  They are great stories to read aloud too, so are perfect for sharing at bedtime or in class.

In Tapir All at Sea Bambang discovers the perfect hobby for him, has an accident in the park and gets caught by the dog catcher, gets kidnapped by an old foe and gets everything that he could ever dream of.  Bambang is still getting used to life in the big city, so he still has his share of mishaps.  Luckily he has his brave, kind friend Mango to help him out and show him the ways of city life.

Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy are a dream team.  Polly’s stories are funny and witty, with a dash of adventure and suspense to keep you guessing what might happen next. She knows her audience well, but adults will also enjoy the stories (I certainly did). Clara’s illustrations bring Mango and Bambang to life.  Every page is illustrated, showing us the many expressions of Bambang, from the joy of dancing with ribbons to his fear, hiding in the closet wearing his Comforting Hat.  I especially love Clara’s illustrations of Cynthia Prickle-Posset.  She looks like an evil version of Dame Edna.

One of the things I love the most about the Mango and Bambang books is the thought and effort that has gone into the design and production of the books.  They are the perfect package, with highly appealing covers and nice extra touches, like the coloured edging and the foiled cover.  All of these aspects make the books jump off the shelf and I’m sure children will be eager to get their hands on them.

Whether you’re looking for a wonderful new book for your 7-10 year old or a great read aloud for a Year 3-5 class you must grab a copy of Mango and Bambang: Tapir All at Sea.  Make sure you also grab the first book too, Mango and Bambang: The Not-a-Pig.

 

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Win an advance copy of Raymie Nightingale

The super nice people at Walker Books Australia sent me an advance copy of Kate DiCamillo’s wonderful new book Raymie Nightingale. I’ve just finished it and can’t wait to shout about it.

 
I want to share the love so here’s your chance to read Raymie Nightingale before its published. All you have to do is email bestfriendsrbooks@gmail.com with the subject ‘Pick me’ along with your name and address. 

Thanks to everyone who entered. The winner is Sandra. There will be another chance to win Raymie Nightingale soon.

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My Top April Kids and YA Releases

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Demon Road: Desolation by Derek Landy

Reeling from their bloody encounter in New York City at the end of Demon Road, Amber and Milo flee north. On their trail are the Hounds of Hell – five demonic bikers who will stop at nothing to drag their quarries back to their unholy master.Amber and Milo’s only hope lies within Desolation Hill – a small town with a big secret; a town with a darkness to it, where evil seeps through the very floorboards. Until, on one night every year, it spills over onto the streets and all hell breaks loose. And that night is coming.

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Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

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This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

Micah and Janie, Janie and Micah. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivian moved in next door to Micah. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. The way Janie sees it, Micah and Janie share a soul. They’ll be best friends forever – as long as no one at school knows about it.

Janie and Micah are secret friends. They spend their free time together at the quarry, a pile of rocks Janie dubs the ‘Metaphor for Our Lives.’ At school, Janie pretends she and Micah are only neighbors and barely acquaintances. But when Janie is date raped by the most popular guy in school – the boy she has had a crush on for years – she finds herself ostracised by all the people she called her friends. Now only Micah seems to believe she’s telling the truth. But when even Micah expresses doubts about Janie’s honesty, it leads to disastrous consequences, and Janie Vivian goes missing.

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Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Raymie Clarke has come to realise that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father – who has run away with a dental hygienist – will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton, but she has to compete with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante with her show-business background and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship – and challenge them to come to each other’s rescue in unexpected ways.
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Twenty Questions for Gloria by Martyn Bedford

It started with an appearance, not a disappearance.

Gloria is tired of her ordinary life. She barely recognises the free-spirited girl she used to be in the unadventurous teenager she has become. So when a mysterious boy bent on breaking the rules strolls into her classroom, Gloria is ready to fall under his spell. Uman is funny, confident and smart. He does whatever he likes and doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him. The only people for him are the mad ones, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn. He is everything Gloria wishes to be. He can whisk her away from the life she loathes and show her a more daring, more exciting one, in which the only limits are the boundaries of her own boldness. But Uman in not all he seems and by the time she learns the truth about him, she is a long way from home and everyone wants to know, where’s Gloria?

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The Haters by Jesse Andrews

Wes and Corey are convinced nothing cool can come of their lame summer at jazz camp, when along comes Ash – all blonde hair and brash words – and cracks their world wide open. Finally, something they can’t seem to hate. When Ash convinces them that a great musician is made on the road, the three friends flee camp and begin an epic, hilarious road trip: The Haters 2016 Summer of Hate Tour.

Amid sneaking into seedy bars, evading their parents and the police, and spending every minute together in a makeshift tour bus, romance blossoms and bursts, and hygiene takes a back seat. Wes begins to realise the limitations of hating everything: it keeps you at a convenient distance from something, or someone, you just might love.

When you can find something to hate about every band, how do you make a sound you love?

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Let’s Play by Herve Tullet

Hi there, do you want to play?

Join the yellow dot on an adventure of colour and movement, surprise and imagination.

A fantastic companion to Press Here and Mix it Up!

Dave's Cave

Dave’s Cave by Frann Preston-Gannon

Dave loves his cave. Inside is decorated EXACTLY the way he likes it. Outside there is a lovely spot for a fire and the grass is always lovely and green. But, Dave is unhappy. What if there might be an even better cave out there? And off he sets in search of a new home. But it turns out that good caves are hard to find. They’re either too small, or too big, or too full of bats, until he finds one that looks MUCH more promising. Outside has the perfect space for a fire and the grass is greener than any he’s ever seen… But why does it look so familiar?

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Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn

Sheils is very happy with her perfectly controlled life. She’s smart, powerful, the Student Body Chair, and has a doting boyfriend. What more could a girl ask for? But everything changes when the first-ever interspecies transfer student, a pterodactyl named Pyke, enrolls at her school. There’s something about him – something primal – that causes the students to lose control whenever he’s around.

When Pyke’s band plays at the Autumn Whirl dance, his music sends the whole school into a literal frenzy. The next day no one can even remember what happened at the dance, but Shiels learns that she danced far too long with Pyke, her nose has turned purple, and she may have done … something that she shouldn’t have. Who is this winged boy, with incredible pecs and rock star talent that has swooped in on her carefully constructed life?

Special Ones

The Special Ones by Em Bailey

He keeps us here because we’re Special. Esther is one of the Special Ones – four people who live under his protection in a remote farmhouse. The Special Ones are not allowed to leave, but why would they want to? Here, they are safe from toxic modern life, safe from a meaningless existence, safe in their endless work. He watches them every moment of every day, ready to punish them if they forget who they are – all while broadcasting their lives to eager followers on the outside. Esther knows he will renew her if she stops being Special, and that renewal almost certainly means death. Yet she also knows she’s a fake. She has no ancient wisdom, no genuine advice to offer her followers. But like an actor caught up in an endless play, she must keep up the performance – if she wants to survive long enough to escape.
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What Dog Knows by Sylvia Vanden-Heede and Marije Tolman

When Wolf finds a fact-filled book in the library, he thinks he will at last  outsmart his clever friend, Dog.

The two friends spar as they learn all about mummies and skeletons; robots, knights, and pirates; dinosaurs and dragons; rockets and the moon. As always with Wolf and Dog, there is just as much to learn about getting along together; about friends and enemies, food and fleas.

 

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Michael Morpurgo Month – An Eagle in the Snow

March is Michael Morpurgo Month, a celebration of one of the best storytellers (and one of my favourite authors).  Organised by Michael Morpurgo’s publisher, it is a chance to highlight the many wonderful stories that Michael has written. Here is one of my favourite Michael Morpurgo books.

Michael Morpurgo is one of the greatest storytellers for kids.  You can’t help but get completely wrapped up in the story as soon as you start.  I’ve loved every single one of his stories, from his retellings to his fiction based on real people and animals.  Michael’s latest book, An Eagle in the Snow, is another wonderful story from this incredible storyteller.

1940. Barney and his mother, their home destroyed by bombing, are travelling to the country when their train is forced to shelter in a tunnel from attacking German planes. There, in the darkness, a stranger on the train begins to tell them a story. A story about Bobby Byron, the most decorated soldier of WW1, who once had the chance to end the war before it even began, and how he tried to fix his mistake. But sometimes the right thing is hard to see – and even harder to live with.

An Eagle in the Snow is an extraordinary story, based on true events, about one moment that could have saved the world from the Second World War.  Michael had me captivated from start to finish.  Like many of his previous books Michael Morpurgo tells a story within a story.  The story starts with Barney and his mother who are escaping the bombing of their home and follows their journey by train to Barney’s auntie.  The story within the story is told by the stranger in their train car who tells Barney and his mum about his friend Billy and his extraordinary life.

The thing that I love the most about Michael Morpurgo’s stories is the way that he brings history alive.  He takes historical events and often little-known people and weaves fact into fiction.  In the back of the book Michael tells readers about Henry Tandey, the incredibly brave soldier who Billy is based on. It is amazing to think that, had he made a different decision, the world would not have known the evil that was Adolf Hitler.

Michael Morpurgo’s stories are also quite emotional and An Eagle in the Snow is no exception.  You feel Barney’s heartache when his home is destroyed and he can’t get to his precious belongings, you feel his fear when he is sitting in the dark of the tunnel, and you experience the highs and lows of Billy’s life.  One of the most emotional parts for me is when Billy’s world comes crashing down when he recognises Hitler’s face on the cinema screen.

An Eagle in the Snow is a must-read book, especially for fans of Michael Morpurgo.  If you’ve never read a Michael Morpurgo book there is no better book to start with than An Eagle in the Snow.  You won’t be disappointed!

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