Author Archives: JB
Hi readers! Another book review by me. Today I am reviewing Natboff! One Million Years Of Stupidity, written by the amazingly brilliant Andy Stanton, author of the Mr Gum books. It is illustrated by the incredibly brilliant David Tazzyman. I recommend it for 7 years and over.
Natboff is a collection of stories set in the town of Lamonic Bibber, where the Mr Gum books take place. They’re all set in different time periods. You can read about Natboff the caveman in the caveman days, Old King Thunderbelly in 561 AD, and Strange Mildred the witch in the 1600s. Read what happens when Lamonic Bibber is faced with plague, and the mysterious tale of the Victorian inventor Cribbins and his friend, Doctor Wempers. There is also a never before seen manuscript, a play by the lesser-known playwright Terry Shakespeare, brother of William Shakespeare. The play is a comedy called ‘Tis Rubbish Being a Squirrel, and is better than anything of William Shakespeare’s – I assure you I’m right! (Or am I? Maybe not. There was that time with the clown and the peanuts – never mind. Read it and see for yourself). There’s also a section called Bibbering Through the Ages, highlighting the great men and women who shaped Lamonic Bibber into what it is now.
Funny beyond your wildest dreams, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. Andy Stanton has a track record of hilarious humour, and this is no exception! My favourite character is Doctor Twigs from The Witchfinder General. If you like bags and rice and a bag stuffed with rice, you’ll love him.
I like to think that writers have their own writing DNA, a style that’s unique to them. But you can only master writing if you make a book that is so downright amazing you forget it’s a book. The worlds of reality and fiction become…merged. Andy Stanton’s Natboff has achieved that level. It is perfect. It is everything that you could wish for. In summary… it is absolutely magnificent.
That is my review. If you have any suggestions for books I should review, let me know in the comments, and I will try to read and review all of them!
Hello! Another book review by me. I am reviewing the newly out book Alex Sparrow and the Furry Fury by Jennifer Killick, sequel to Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink. I recommend it for 8 years and over.
Let me give you a brief summary of Alex Sparrow: he is a ten-year old boy with a difference: he has superpowers. No, not super strength, or laser eyes. His right ear farts when someone lies. At first, he struggles to cope with it, but in the end he utilizes it. In Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink he teams up with Jess Lawler, who can communicate with animals, and saves their school. He then decides to work with Jess on any future missions.
Alex is a character you really get to know. He doesn’t like to settle down, preferring to be constantly on his toes, and is a big fan of Marvel and Star Wars (the book references Episode III: Revenge of the Sith). He enjoys pranks and jokes, particularly winding up Jess! However, Alex grows wiser throughout the events of Furry Fury, and even forms a bond with a hedgehog.
In Furry Fury, Alex and Jess volunteer at the local animal sanctuary, but discover that the animals are acting strangely, as is Rex, the bullied new boy at their school who runs the sanctuary along with his mother. There are also news reports of strange animal activity around town. The police have no suspects.
In the end, Alex and Jess discover who’s behind all of it, so prepare for a thrilling climax.
In total, Furry Fury is a very good book, and I strongly advise you to read it. It is humourous, down-to-earth, and will snag you from page one. Jennifer Killick’s book provides a nice sequel to Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink.
That is my review. If you have any suggestions for books for me to review, let me know in the comments, although be prepared to wait a while as I have committed to rather a lot of reviews!
Hello! Another book review by me. The book in question is Murder Most Unladylike, by Robin Stevens. I recommend it for 11 years old and above. The book is about two girls at Deepdean School for Girls, Daisy Wells, who is described as “the perfect English girl” and Hazel Wong, who is from Hong Kong.
Together, they establish the Wells & Wong Detective Society (Daisy as President, Hazel as Secretary), but can’t find any proper cases, until Hazel discovers the dead body of their Science mistress, Miss Bell. Suddenly Daisy and Hazel are faced with a daunting task. They know it was murder, but they must solve the case, and prove the existence of a murder to everyone else.
Hazel and Daisy are a funny pairing, and, occasionally arguments flare up between them, but they are good-natured, and will not stop until they find the murderer’s identity, and make sure he or she is brought to justice. My favourite character in the book, surprisingly, is not Daisy or Hazel, but little third former Rebecca “Beanie” Martineau. She is nicknamed Beanie because she is small and easily frightened. She has no idea of Daisy and Hazel’s investigation, and what information she picks up about Miss Bell’s disappearance (only Hazel and Daisy know it was murder) comes through gossip. Still, she is small and sweet and very inquisitive, and I think she is the kind of character you just can’t ignore. She could even be considered as a technical ally of the detective agency.
But who did it? Who murdered Miss Joan Bell? It could be anyone. Perhaps it was Miss Hopkins, the PE mistress, who is sometimes a right pain, or perhaps the nervous mistress of English, Miss Tennyson, Miss Parker, the maths mistress, maybe. Or it could be the handsome new master of music and art, Mr Reid, known as “The One”. Daisy and Hazel must deduce who did it, and stop them before it’s too late!
That is my review of Murder Most Unladylike, by Robin Stevens. It achieves just about every writing target that can be achieved. It is stunning. It is mysterious. It is… everything a book can be. You would find it very hard to criticise.
Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions of books I should read and review. I will do my very best to get them all read and the reviews written!
I have decided to write up book reviews on this site as often as I can, so watch this space. My first review is of Holes, by Louis Sachar. I recommend it for 10 years and over.
Stanley Yelnats has bad luck, because, supposedly, his family lineage is cursed. (Shock! Horror!), thanks to his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather. Stanley is constantly finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. That eventually lands him in a juvenile detention centre (although he was innocent of the crime he had supposedly committed). The centre is called Camp Green Lake. Every day at camp they are forced to dig one hole, supposedly to build character. But what are really digging for?
In order to discover the truth, Stanley must band together with his campmates Zero, X-Ray, Armpit, Squid, Magnet and Zigzag. But will they find out the camp’s ulterior motives?
Stanley is an inspiring character. He may seem a little hard at first, but inside he’s got a warm soul. He is a good leader, which helps when he and his campmate Zero go on the run from Camp Green Lake.
Throughout the story, there are flashbacks to different time periods, including the true story of Stanley’s great-great grandfather, Elya Yelnats, and also flashbacks to 110 years ago, when the town of Green Lake was thriving, and what led to its downfall.
My favourite character in the book is Zero. All the boys in camp have nicknames, but Zero is called Zero by the counsellors as well. However, he confesses to Stanley that his real name is Hector Zeroni. He is thought by the counsellors and kids at camp to be quite stupid, and it is true that he never learned to read or write, which Stanley helps him with. But Zero possesses a large amount of intelligence, and says he just “doesn’t like answering questions.” He is best at mathematics, and demonstrates this several times. Zero’s character brings out a lot of emotions in my mind. He’s thought stupid, but really, his sheer willpower, loyalty, and determination make him the smartest, and he is a good friend, especially when on the run with Stanley.
That is my review of Holes by Louis Sachar. It is a funny, moving, thrilling story that touches your heart forever, Sachar at his best. I assure you, you won’t be able to put it down. If you (yes, you!) want to find out what happens in Holes, get the book for yourself. I will be doing more book reviews in the future, so if you have any suggestions for books you would like me to review, let me know in the comments, and I will do my best to get them all read!
Yes, that’s right, Thimble 2 has been released! Thimble Holiday Havoc, the sequel to Thimble Monkey Superstar, (for more details on this book, see my article titled Thimble Monkey Superstar which is also on the homepage) is all about a home swap holiday in France, which sounds normal until you hear this – there’s a monkey coming too! The main characters, just to remind you, are:
Douglas Dawson: Failed writer.
Nora: Hardworking mother and Douglas’ partner.
Jams Cogan: Enthusiastic, disabled narrator of the story (and loosely based on me). Son of Nora and Douglas.
Thimble: Mischievous monkey and Jams’ best friend.
Le Boucher (or The Butcher in English)
We first hear of Le Boucher when Nora meets him in his butcher’s shop. She takes an immense liking to him and returns many times (despite the fact she is a vegetarian). Dad, however, dislikes the butcher because he keeps winking at Nora, although Nora says he has a tic. Dad finds this explanation dubious, though, and his rivalry with Le Boucher continues to boil.
Watch this space…
Here’s an extract of Thimble Holiday Havoc, all about the time when Thimble got hold of the superglue…
This extract DOES NOT contain spoilers.
(apologies for the lack of speech marks as this was an early draft)
What Happened when Thimble Got Hold of the Superglue.
It was a rare day in Dawson Castle, our little bungalow home. Rare because Dad was happy. As you may know, Dad is the great children’s author Douglas Dawson, except not many people seem to have noticed how great he is. As a result he does not sell many books, or visit many schools, or do anything much, except moan about the fact that Mum has much more money. So you can imagine how delighted he was when a letter arrived, asking him to be the guest speaker at the Lower Pugley Retired Ladies Embroidery Club annual dinner. I was a little suspicious about this, as there is a man on telly called Douglas Lawson who makes tapestries out of pasta and was voted Silver Fox of the Year. But I said nothing. How could I spoil it when Dad was marching round the house with his fist raised high, crying “They want me! They want me!”?
As the day approached Dad grew more and more nervous. He couldn’t decide whether to wear his green corduroy suit or his paisley shirt and cravat. He couldn’t decide whether to get a haircut or wear a Terry Pratchett hat. He stopped eating tea and started collecting pens, always a bad sign with Dad. Then, when the day arrived, he decided that fourteen pens simply weren’t enough.
“Jams” he said. “Where is my lucky pen?”
“In the Useful Drawer?” I suggested.
“Of course” he replied. “That’s where it’ll be”
The Useful Drawer was in the castle refectory (kitchen), just under the Utensils We Don’t Understand Drawer. We hurried there with all possible speed, only to find the drawer suspiciously open and Thimble lurking even-more-suspiciously nearby. To Thimble, the Useful Drawer was a place of endless fascination, perhaps because I had once unwisely hidden a banana there.
Thimble, said Dad, have you just taken something from that drawer?
Thimble’s only answer was to back further away.
“He’s got something behind his back,” Dad, I said.
What have you got behind your back, Thimble? asked Dad.
Thimble let out a stream of meaningless monkey chatter.
You’re making him feel threatened, Dad, I said.
He is being threatened, said Dad.
What is it, Thimble? I asked. Is it drawing pins? Is it sellotape? Is it corn-on-the-cob holders?
The corn-on-the-cob holders are in the cutlery drawer, said Dad.
Not any more, Dad, I replied. Mum moved them.
What in heaven’s name for? asked Dad.
It was when she was de-cluttering, I replied.
That is not an answer, replied Dad.
The discussion had only lasted half a minute, but as we all know, you can’t take your eyes off Thimble for two seconds. He was gone.
Get the pen, Jams, said Dad. I’m more nervous than ever now. You’ll find me in the latrine.
The dungeon is Dad’s name for the toilet in Dawson Castle. Mum sometimes spends half a day in there, possibly to get away from Dad, but Dad prides himself in taking as little time as possible, so it was a surprise when he did not reappear for several minutes. Anxiously I knocked on the dungeon door.
Are you alright, Dad? I asked.
No, replied Dad. Something is very wrong.
In what sense, Dad? I asked.
In the sense, replied Dad, that I cannot get off the toilet.
Intrigued? Get the book to read on…
Thimble Monkey Superstar is a book about a family who one day acquire a monkey – I won’t say how – and it settles into their home. From there the story just escalates – and all sorts of things happen. Here are the main characters:
This miserable failed writer has given up all hope and has settled into his home Dawson Castle, which is really just a bungalow, with partner Nora and son Jams. When Thimble moves in Douglas does his utmost to get rid of him. Some of his ideas are weird, some wacky. All are funny.
Nora is Douglas’ reluctant partner and Jams’ mother. No one’s quite sure what she does, although some people think it’s to do with the wind, or a farm, or possibly a combination of the two. She loves Thimble, and discourages Douglas’ attempts to get rid of him.
Jams is son of Nora and Douglas, narrator of Thimble Monkey Superstar, and loosely based on myself. Like me, he has cerebral palsy, so he has his legs in splints, and uses a walker. He is Thimble’s main friend and is determined to keep him in Dawson Castle, no matter what.
And, last but not least…
Thimble the monkey is trouble right from the moment he appears. He causes a string of accidents, damage to objects, injuries to Dad, and chaos in town. Despite his destructive nature however, Thimble has good intentions.
Thimble Monkey Superstar has recently been shortlisted for the Laugh Out Loud Awards 2017, also known as Lollies 2017. Thimble has been shortlisted in the 6 – 9 years old category. To find out how to vote, go to: https://shop.scholastic.co.uk/lollies/vote
Voting for Lollies 2017 closes on December 8th 2017, with the winner announced in January 2018.
Now watch a clip of my dad reading an extract of Thimble (which includes Martin Chatterton’s hilarious illustrations) and you will see just how funny it is.
Don’t forget to look out for the sequel, Thimble Holiday Havoc, which will be published in November 2017.