By Louise Lamont | 30 May, 2017
Summer is here, and with the sunshine comes an array of reading delights!
Scoot! by Katie Blackburn and Jim Smith (Faber)
Old Hat by Emily Gravett (Two Hoots)
Grumpy Frog by Ed Vere (Penguin Random House)
My Name Is Not Refugee by Kate Milner (The Bucket List)
British Museum: ABC (Nosy Crow)
Spot The Mistake – Lands Of Long Ago by Amanda Wood and Mike Jolley, illustrated by Frances Castle (Wide Eyed)
My Book Of Birds by Geraldo Valério (Hachette)
The Tale Of Angelino Brown by David Almond and Alex T Smith (Walker)
Beyond The Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk (Penguin Random House)
Llama United by Scott Allen illustrated by Sarah Horne (Macmillan)
Journey To Dragon Island by Clare Fayers (Macmillan)
Where The World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean (Usborne)
King Coo by Adam Stower (David Fickling Books)
The Boy, The Bird and The Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods (Scholastic)
Moonlocket by Peter Bunzl (Usborne)
There’s A Werewolf In My Tent! by Pamela Butchart (Nosy Crow)
Poppy Pym And The Smuggler’s Secret by Laura Wood (Scholastic)
Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green (Scholastic)
Countless by Karen Gregory (Bloomsbury)
928 Miles From Home by Kim Slater (Macmillan)
The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein (Bloomsbury)
Release by Patrick Ness (Walker)
Encounters by Jason Wallace (Andersen)
One Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman (Old Barn Books)
Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell (Hot Key)
One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton (Hot Key)
By Louise Lamont | 26 April, 2017
Lots of wonderful books out this month – usher in the spring with something new!
The Tale Of The Castle Mice by Michael Bond and Emily Sutton (Penguin Random House)
Old MacDonald Heard A Parp by Olaf Falafel (HarperCollins)
Grandad’s Secret Giant by David Litchfield (Quarto)
Silver by Walter de la Mare and Carolina Rabbei (Faber)
Ellie’s Magic Wellies by Amy Sparkes and Nick East (Egmont)
The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury (Penguin Random House)
Nibbles The Book Monster by Emma Yarlett (Little Tiger Press)
Edgar and the Sausage Inspector by Jan Fearnley (Nosy Crow)
Lots: The Diversity Of Life On Earth by Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton (Walker)
Ella Queen Of Jazz by Helen Hancocks (Quarto)
Ballerina Dreams by Michaela DePrince (Faber)
Doing It: Let’s Talk About Sex… by Hannah Witton (Hachette)
The Bookshop Girl by Sylvia Bishop (Scholastic)
Beetle Queen by MG Leonard (Chicken House)
Evie’s Ghost by Helen Peters (Nosy Crow)
Perfect by Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins)
The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (PRH)
Chasing The Stars by Malorie Blackman (PRH)
Defy The Stars by Claudia Gray (Bonnier)
Always And Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (Scholastic)
Letters To The Lost by Brigid Kemmerer (Bloomsbury)
Beyond The Wall by Tanya Landman (Walker)
Kid Got Shot by Simon Mason (DFB)
Stargazing For Beginners by Jenny McLachlan (Bloomsbury)
Geekerella by Ashley Poston (Quirk)
Generation Next: The Takeover by Oli White (Hodder)
Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner (Andersen)
By Katherine Woodfine | 24 April, 2017
Exciting news - following our first Down the Rabbit Hole live show at Waterstones Kensington to celebrate World Book Day, we're heading to Hay Festival for our second live show!
We'll be celebrating the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, which celebrates its 60th birthday this year, with a panel of top illustrators - Rob Biddulph, Leigh Hobbs, Emma Lewis and Britta Teckentrup - who will be telling us about their favourite books from the prize's history, and the illustrators who have inspired them. Full details below:
KATE GREENAWAY MEDAL WINNERS: THE ILLUSTRATORS WHO MADE US
Wednesday 31 May 2017, 2.30pm • Venue: Starlight Stage
Rob Biddulph, Leigh Hobbs, Emma Lewis and Britta Teckentrup
The children’s radio show, Down the Rabbit Hole comes to Hay LIVE. Four top illustrators will be talking about their favourite books from the prize’s history, the illustrators who have inspired them; and the power of pictures in children’s books.
If you'd like to join us, tickets are available now on the Hay Festival site
To find out more about Hay Festival visit hayfestival.com or follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @hayfestival
By Louise Lamont | 01 March, 2017
February 2017 has been a bumper month for children's publishing - with a host of new titles ranging from picture books to teen fiction. Here's our list of highlights to look out for this month.
I Don’t Want Curly Hair by Laura Ellen Anderson (Bloomsbury)
The Everywhere Bear by Julia Donaldson & Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan)
Jellicle Cats by TS Eliot & Arthur Robins (Faber)
The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright (Orchard)
The Unexpected Visitor by Jessica Courtney-Tickle (Egmont)
The Night Gardener by Eric and Terry Fan (Frances Lincoln)
Edie by Sophy Henn (Puffin)
Alfie And His Very Best Friend by Shirley Hughes (Random House)
Life Is Magic by Meg McLaren (Andersen)
A Beginner’s Guide To Bearspotting by Michelle Robinson & David Roberts (Bloomsbury)
Claude Going For Gold! by Alex T Smith (Hachette)
There’s A Tiger In The Garden by Lizzy Stewart (Frances Lincoln)
The Dragon With A Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis (Bloomsbury)
Broken Heart Club by Cathy Cassidy (Puffin)
The Bolds On Holiday by Julian Clary & David Roberts (Andersen)
Zoe’s Rescue Zoo: The Scruffy Sea Otter by Amelia Cobb (Nosy Crow)
Who Let The Gods Out? by Maz Evans (Chicken House)
Tom Gates: Super Good Skills (Almost…) by Liz Pichon (Scholastic)
King Flashypants And The Creature From Crong by Andy Riley (Hodder)
The Misadventures Of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon & Schuster)
The Seriously Extraordinary Diary Of Pig by Emer Stamp (Scholastic)
Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams (HarperCollins)
Rent A Bridesmaid by Jacqueline Wilson (Random House)
The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen (Scholastic)
The Young Magicians And The Thieves’ Almanac by Nick Mohammed (Puffin)
The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart (Chicken House)
The Painted Dragon by Katherine Woodfine (Egmont)
King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard (Orion)
We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan (Bloomsbury)
The Edge Of Everything by Jeff Giles (Bloomsbury)
Traitor To The Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (Faber)
Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt (Usborne)
Dramarama by E. Lockhart (Hot Key Books)
Heartless by Marissa Meyer (Macmillan)
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit (Penguin)
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Simon & Schuster)
All About Mia by Lisa Williamson (David Fickling Books)
Meet The Artist: David Hockney by Rose Blake (Tate)
Peep Inside A Fairy Tale: Beauty And The Beast by Anna Milbourne and Lorena Alvarez (Usborne)
Country House Gardens: Doll House Sticker Book by Struan Reid and Lucy Grossmith (Usborne)
Flip Flap Dogs by Nikki Dyson (Nosy Crow)
World Book Day £1 Books:
Peppa Loves World Book Day (Ladybird)
Everyone Loves Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
Where’s Wally? The Fantastic Journey by Martin Handford (Walker Books)
Princess Mirror-Belle and Snow White by Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks (Macmillan)
Horrid Henry: Funny Fact Files by Francesca Simon (Orion Children’s Books)
Blob by David Walliams (HarperCollins)
Good Old Timmy and Other Stories by Enid Blyton (Hodder Children’s Books)
Butterfly Beach by Jacqueline Wilson (Corgi)
Island by David Almond (Hodder Children’s Books)
Dead of Night: A Front Lines Story by Michael Grant (Egmont)
By Katherine Woodfine | 01 February, 2017
Following the discussion in episode 31, here's our list of books which can help children and young people to understand more about politics and world events.
This list is a work-in-progress: please let us know any additional suggestions via Twitter @dtrhradio and we will add them to this page.
Refugees and immigration
Alpha by Barroux & Bessora, translated by Sarah Ardizzone
Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah
The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon (listen to our interview with Zana in episode 30)
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
The Journey by Francesca Sanna (listen to our review of The Journey in episode 22)
Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird
Oranges in No Man's Land by Elizabeth Laird
Kiss the Dust by Elizabeth Laird
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filipovic
After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross
Refuge by Anne Booth and Sam Usher (listen to Anne reading the story in episode 18)
Rubbish Town Hero by Nicola Davies
The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce
In the Sea there are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda
Azzi in Between by Sarah Garland
The Island by Armin Greder
The Silver Sword by Ian Serralier
Red Leaves by Sita Brahmachari
Looking at the Stars by Jo Cotterill
The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan
Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan & Brian Conaghan
Sweet Pizza by G R Gemin
Teacup by Rebecca Young and Matt Ottley
We are All Born Free: The Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures
Here I Stand: Stories That Speak for Freedom
Dreams of Freedom in Words and Pictures
I Have the Right to be a Child
My Little Book of Big Freedoms illustrated by Chris Riddell
Social justice and activism
A is for Activist
What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne (and the other books in the Spinster Club series)
It's Your World by Chelsea Clinton
The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
March: Book 1 by Nate Powell, John Lewis & Andrew Aydin (also March: Book 2, March: Book 3)
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
Wonder by R J Palacio
My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher
Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari
The Kites are Flying by Michael Morpurgo and Laura Carlin
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Books by Selina Alko
Books by Sean Qualls
Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
Once by Morris Gleitzman (also Then, Now, After)
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman by Raymond Briggs
The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff
Chalkline by Jane Mitchell
War Brothers by Sharon McKay and Daniel Lafrance
Sold by Patricia McCormick
Coming soon - look out for these new titles in the coming months
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (April)
My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner (May)
A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis (May)
Talking Politics: a list of useful resources from blogger LH Johnson
Amnesty International on children's books and human rights
BookTrust: Books about refugees and asylum seekers
CLPE Refugee Experience booklist
Little Rebels Children's Book Award: prize for children's books promoting social justice
We Need Stories More than Ever - using books to discuss Trump and all that: a blog post from Barrington Stoke
By Katherine Woodfine | 31 January, 2017
We’re excited to announce our first ever live event! Join us for Down the Rabbit Hole Live on Thursday 2 March 2017 at 6.30pm at Waterstones Kensington, London.
We'll be celebrating World Book Day 2017 with three award-winning and bestselling children’s writers - Piers Torday, Abi Elphinstone and Cathryn Constable - who'll be talking about creativity, adventure, imagination and how stories change our view of the world.
Piers Today's award-winning stories take readers to worlds full of wonder with a dash of danger, whilst Abi Elphinstone's magical books are inspired by her love of adventure and nature, and Cathryn Constable's novels transport readers with the perfect blend of science and dreamy reality.
Tickets are £3.00: book yours here.
By Katherine Woodfine | 07 January, 2017
Following our 2016 Christmas Special, check out the full list of our favourite children's books of 2016!
Baby and Novelty Books
Steven: Nibbles the Book Monster by Emma Yarlett
Melissa: Garden Sounds by Sam Taplin and Federica Iossa
Louise: Illuminature by Rachel Williams and Carnovsky
Katherine: Usborne Slot Together Theatre by Anna Milbourne, Jamey Christoph and Jenny Hilbourne
Kate: The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie
Steven: Oi Dog! by Kes and Claire Grey and Jim Field, You Must Bring a Hat by Kate Hindley and Simon Philip and Odd Bods by Steven Burtler and Jarvis
Melissa: A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Louise: Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
Katherine: King Baby by Kate Beaton
Melinda: The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Milwood Hargreave
Kate: Little Bits of Sky by S E Durrant and Katie Harnett
Steven and Katherine: Cogheart by Peter Bunzl
Louise: Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez Gomez
Melissa: The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd and Levi Pinfold
Melinda: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner and The Graces by Laure Eve
Melissa: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland and Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Kate: One by Sarah Crossan
Louise: Never Evers by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison
Katherine: The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie Sue Hitchcock, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew and Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff
Melissa: A Poem for Every Night of the Year edited by Allie Esiri
Louise: The Wolves of Currumpaw by William Grill
Kate: The Way Things Work (new edition) by David Macaulay and Neil Ardley
Melinda: Botanicum by Kathy Willis and Katie Scott
Katherine: Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst
New discovery or rediscovery
Steven: Hiding Heidi by Fiona Woodcock and Dot in the Snow by Corrinne Averiss and Fiona Woodcock
Kate: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Melinda: The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo
Louise: Diana Wynne Jones
Melissa: The Caravan Family by Enid Blyton
Katherine: The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken
Listen to our 2016 Christmas Special for more on all of these books or check out some top children's books editors discussing their favourite books of the year.
By Katherine Woodfine | 22 December, 2016
We asked a host of top children’s books editors which books - published by a publishing house other than their own - had really grabbed their attention this year. Here are the books they told us they most admired:
Deirdre McDermott, Picture Book Publisher/Creative Director Walker Books
One great book this year was Jean Jullien’s This is Not a Book (Phaidon) – we love everything that Jean does, and this clever concept book is no exception. Jean always looks at things in a completely unique way, and we love how he reimagines the book form … it’s full of wonderful surprises.
We also love Yasmeen Ismail’s I’m a Girl! (Bloomsbury) – there’s so much joy and movement and energy in Yasmeen’s art, and you can’t help but feel empowered and uplifted by her wonderful read-aloud text… here’s to the girls in 2017!
Jenny Broom, Editorial Director Frances Lincoln Children's Books and Wide Eyed Editions
The book that I would have loved to have published would be The Liszts by Kyo MacLear and Júlia Sardà (Andersen Press – kudos Libby Hamilton). I've been a fan of Julia's for ages and I absolutely love everything about this book, from the fantastic Art Deco-inspired cover to the Liszts's eclectic, kooky lists. As a compulsive list maker, I instantly recognised myself in the characters who blend Adams Family gothic charm with an eccentricity straight out of Cold Comfort Farm.
Ruth Bennett, Commissioning Editor Stripes
Unboxed by Non Pratt, published by Barrington Stoke. Non's writing immediately draws the reader into the lives of a group of teens on the cusp of adulthood and perfectly captures the dynamics of their friendship in this intense and beautifully formed short novel. Barrington Stoke are experts at publishing books for reluctant readers and readers with dyslexia and this is a book that balances sophisticated themes and accessible writing and features a diverse cast that feels true to life. It's wrapped up in an incredibly attractive cover, too! All in all, this is a Young Adult novel anyone should be proud to be seen reading, showing that really special books comes in all shapes and sizes, just like us.
Liz Cross, Head of Children’s Publishing OUP
I will go for… Cogheart, by Peter Bunzl, published by Usborne. The reason being: as an editor, when you miss out on acquiring a book you really love, you always worry about whether the publisher that beat you (blast them!!) will do a good enough job for the book and the author. I can be VERY critical of other publishers’ covers and marketing campaigns in cases like that. (Sour grapes? Me? Never!) But in the cases of the wonderful Cogheart, I have to say that I think Usborne have done a really great job. The cover is gorgeous and distinctive, and really sets the atmosphere for the book – and the buzz they created about the book from the start through social media was very powerful. Their sales material made it crystal clear how special they all thought the book was, and it’s all added up to a really successful and impactful launch for this fabulous book.
Lauren Fortune, Senior Commissioning Editor, Scholastic
My standout publication of the year is Stripes’ I’ll be Home for Christmas anthology. I love everything about this – the gorgeous Cath Kidston-esque cover perfect for gift purchases, the amazing line-up of contributors, the stories themselves, the support for Crisis. The marketing has been spot-on, from turning the Stripes stand at hot and stuffy YALC into an eye-catching winter grotto in July, to engaging with retailers, reviewers AND teenagers so effectively on social media, to the way it linked with so many high-profile authors and established events in the YA space, including YALC and the Bookseller YA Book Prize, to achieve coverage and cachet. It is a shining, heart-warming piece of publishing in a rotten year for the world, and I salute everyone involved and hope it sells brilliantly.
Tom Bonnick, Business Development Manager and Commissioning Editor, Nosy Crow
I have been hugely impressed with Chicken House’s list this year. They’ve found some incredible debut voices - I loved the warmth, wit, and great characters in M.G. Leonard’s Beetle Boy, and Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s The Girl of Ink and Stars felt like the discovery of a new talent with immense promise.
They’ve had a fantastic hit-rate for the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month slot, no doubt helped by the fact that their cover design in 2016 has been truly stand-out - with some lovely production finishes, too, like Beetle Boy’s multi-coloured sprayed edges. And I absolutely adored Natasha Farrant’s Pride and Prejudice-inspired Lydia - a very astute piece of publishing that was beautifully executed.
Looking ahead, I’ve observed Bloomsbury’s clever, imaginative commissioning for 2017 with admiration and not a little envy: I can’t wait to read Katherine Rundell’s first picture book and Jessie Burton’s feminist fairytales next year.
Venetia Gosling, Publisher 6+, Macmillan Children’s Books
There are two books that stand out for me - One by Sarah Crossan, published by Bloomsbury, which was just a brilliant and moving read, and pulled poetry and the verse novel back into the spotlight in a very modern way.
And I loved Brian Selsnick's The Marvels (Scholastic), which felt both innovative and traditional at the same time, cleverly marrying text and illustration with two separate but interconnected storylines - utterly transfixing and impressive. I realise it published in Autumn 2015, but I only read it this year (does that count?!)...
If not, can I have Time-Travelling with a Hamster (HarperCollins)? I really enjoyed this, it has a great title, the author is dry and funny, the story is poignant and silly in equal measure and the cover is simple and impactful. It works. And I was really pleased to see a funny middle grade debut on the Costa shortlist!
Chloe Sackur, Fiction Editor, Andersen Press
I’ve chosen Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle (Atom). This book really touched me. Although it’s a story about teens with some very sobering worries – bereavement, family debt, gangs, stop and search – it balances all this with the language and worldview of its narrator, McKay. At 14, he still has some of the idealism and fantasies of a child. There’s some great invented teen slang which shares literary DNA with Nadsat in A Clockwork Orange, but a deeper metaphor runs through it too: McKay’s estate is a place of danger and adventure, where his flat is a castle, complete with drawbridge front door, and his mates are his fellow knights, setting out on a chivalrous quest to seek a girl’s stolen iPhone. It’s an inspired way of demonstrating the push and pull of adolescence and growing up. There are some nice touches about the book itself, too – this series’ covers are bright and eye-catching and stylish, ideal for today’s design-savvy teens (they’re by Jack Smyth). At the back, Atom have thoughtfully included a list of helplines for organisations that deal with some of the issues raised in the story, and, best of all, a couple of McKay’s favourite recipes.
Ali Dougal, Publishing Director, Egmont UK
I’ve admired Nosy Crow’s publishing of Pamela Butchart this year. Pamela was already a fast-rising star, but with the publication of two books in the Baby Aliens series, three books in the Pugly series and a new Wigglesbottom Primary installment, her position is cemented as one of the most dominant new writers for young readers. Strong momentum and packaging, presence on the events scene and, of course, a fresh and genuinely funny voice have made this a terrific year for her.
Tune into Down the Rabbit Hole's hour-long Christmas Special on 25 December at 4.00pm on Resonance 104.4FM to hear more books of the year!
By Melissa Cox | 30 November, 2016
According to Meg March, November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year. I was reminded of this quote by today’s Google doodle celebrating Louisa May Alcott being born 184 years ago this very day and I have to agree with it. November is a pretty dull month and on the whole, it’s very quiet for new children’s books.
This November doesn’t have a huge amount of new titles in terms of variety but the landscape is instead dominated by arguably the three biggest children’s books of the year, plus the Wizarding World juggernaut continues with the release of the Fantastic Beasts screenplay.
First out of the blocks with latest instalment in the hugely popular Wimpy Kid series is Jeff Kinney with Double Down. This is the 11th adventure for Greg and this time he’s going a bit Dawson Leery and planning to direct a Michael Bay inspired scary movie. I noticed too that Waterstones have some signed copies available on their website – what a brilliant Christmas present!
Next up is David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang which I’d confidently say is the children’s book most likely to appear on letters to Father Christmas this year. There’s no doubting Walliams’ genius for picking stories and creating characters that connect brilliantly with young readers and his latest is a humorous and heart-warming tale of a gang of kids on the children’s ward. Full of Walliams’ characteristic pantomime villains and plucky kids, and with illustrations by Tony Ross, I think it’s a shoo-in for Christmas number one.
Another hotly anticipated book is Zoe Sugg’s Girl Online: Going Solo which was published a couple of weeks ago – these books are great for the younger end of the teen market and continue to be hugely popular with Zoella’s legions of fans.
My personal favourite new book for November is a gorgeous illustrated book called The Liszts by Kyo Maclear and Julia Sarda, published by Andersen Press. It’s a highly playful story of a list-making family and sumptuously produced – a beautiful gift for children and adults alike.
Stay tuned for our pick of the beautiful new Christmas and winter themed books that have been published over the last few months, coming very soon.
By Katherine Woodfine | 28 November, 2016
Ahead of this month's show, find out what the DTRH team have been reading this month!
This month I’ve been reading When the Astors Owned New York by Justin Kaplan which is giving me a delightful insight into the wealth and privilege of one of Manhattan’s most prominent families – as a fan of Edith Wharton this sort of thing is very much up my street. I’ve also been dipping into Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga and am hoping to catch up with the TV programme too.
I was also quite poorly earlier on in the month and managed to re-read three Enid Blyton books and The House at Pooh Corner; the only books I could tolerate that week and highly recommended as a panacea.
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Post-election, my colleague and I formed an exclusive HRC book club to read her two memoirs and then lament her defeat all over again. I decided to read Living History first, which covers her life up until she WINS THE ELECTION (as senator, but if you read that as a misprint for ‘president’, it just feels right). The woman is a saint. I wish her nothing but happiness in the wild woods and assorted bookstores of Chappaqua.
Personal History by Katharine Graham. Yes, this month’s reading has a theme... Personal History, not to be confused with Living History although both authors feature in both, is a double-decker of a memoir by the woman who, much to her own surprise, ran the Washington Post through the (second?) most turbulent era in modern American politics. Graham came from an incredibly wealthy family, and I will never tire of reading about incredibly wealthy families in turn-of-the-century America; her dazzling husband committed suicide, leaving her to step into his shoes and forge a career she never expected to have; and then came Watergate.
My hands-down favourite read this month was The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken - a complete collection of her brilliant Armitage family stories. I’m a huge Aiken fan so I don’t know why I’ve never read this book before, but it’s a delight. Spilling over with unicorns, dragons and ‘old fairy ladies’, it is weird, witty and wonderful. The title story may also be one of the saddest things I’ve ever read.
I’ve been enjoying dipping in and out of Reflections by Diana Wynne Jones - an intriguing collection of her essays touching on her life, her writing and her views on fantasy and literature. The chapter on school visits makes a particularly entertaining read for children's authors!