Friday, 19 September 2014

Lindy Jones has been reading... September 2014

Lindy Jones ~ Australian Bookseller's Association Inaugural Bookseller of the Year 2011

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald at Abbey's Bookshop, 131 York Street, Sydney

Helen Macdonald

MacDonald has been obsessed with the archaic traditions of falconry since early childhood, training small falcons and generally immersed in the fellowship of falconers for many years. When her beloved father dies unexpectedly, she is overwhelmed by loss and decides to take on the greatest challenge of all - to train a goshawk. In the process of building a rapport with her hawk, MacDonald learns what it truly is to be human through her association with the wildest and largest British raptor of all.

A lyrical and beautifully crafted meditation on grief, connection, wildness and control, it is also intertwined with her re-reading of T H White's little known book The Goshawk , which details the celebrated author's attempts to train such a bird himself. White and his mistakes, his writings and outsider status, all become essential to her own attempts to make sense of what has happened in losing her father.

I can't recommend this highly enough, and any fan of the ilk of Robert MacFarlane or Roger Deacon, will appreciate this fine book.

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My Father the Great Pirate by Davide Cali & Maurizio Quarello (Illustrator) at Abbey's Bookshop, 131 York Street, Sydney

Davide Cali and Maurizio Quarello (Illustrator)

Sometimes there are books in the children's section because they are illustrated and in a picture book format, so therefore they are for kids. But often enough, these books can't be categorised, and shouldn't be limited to young readers, because they truly transcend age barriers and can speak to anyone who reads. This book is one of those undefinable and special experiences.

As a young boy, the narrator's father goes away, and only returns once a year. The child knows this is because his father is a pirate, a great pirate, who tells him stories about the places he's been, the ships he's attacked, the treasures buried and his shipmates. But one summer his father doesn't return and the boy's mother gets a telegram…

I won't tell more of the story, but I will say that every adult I have inveigled to read this book, has stood quietly and thoughtfully when they reach the end. I don't know how a child would react to it, but I know it moved me unutterably. There are themes of love and what we do to protect our loved ones, of bravery and resilience and that moment when childhood is put behind even when understanding has yet to catch up with experience.

The illustrations are coloured in a muted palette, soft greys and creamy yellows with occasional splashes of warm umber, and convey as much meaning as the simply related text.

Have a look for yourself - I think this is one of the best books I have seen in my picture book section this year. Or for that matter, anywhere in the shop.

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Sophie Collins

Just for something different, a book that shows how to create a menagerie of different animals with just the aid of a torchlight and the shape of your hands. With a little practice, make silhouettes of things like elephants and camels and dogs and birds…

Hours of fun for child and adult alike, simple and effective and a great boost to imaginative play!

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Viviane Schwarz

Now, just occasionally, I have gotten customers boxed in, and read them my favourite cat books: There are Cats in This Book and There are No Cats in This Book by Schwarz. They just beg to be read aloud! This new title is (I apologise in advance!) going to be another I take great delight in reading to unsuspecting enquirers about books for youngsters…

The cats, Tiny, Moonpie and Andre discover that there is a dog in their book - and all cats know all dogs are scary, smelly, yappy and snappy, so they try to hide. But the new puppy soon finds them, and the cats realise they have found a new friend.

Bold bright illustrations with interactive features and a lovely direct style of narrative. Even if you don't ask nicely, I am all too ready to share this one with you!

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Rupert Wallis

James is trapped in a nightmare life - his mother dead, his stepfather violent, neglectful and begrudging, school dreadful. He often seeks refuge in the deserted house on the hill, where he keeps a record of how many days until he's 18 and able to escape. One day though, he discovers a man there - beaten very badly and obviously in trouble. Webster however is not an ordinary man and when the travellers turn up asking about information and promising gold for the knowledge of his whereabouts, James is tempted to reveal what he knows. But the travellers aren't telling the truth, and James and Webster end up running from their respective enemies...

This was an amazingly atmospheric novel, which leaves a lot to the reader's imagination (is Webster cursed? is James doomed to suffer the same fate? what is the puppet the old traveller woman keeps?). It reminded me of Patrick Ness and David Almond, and was as skilful and as thought-provoking as works by either of those fine writers. 12+

Michael Grant

Mara wakes up in an unknown place, remembering nothing but her name. A mysterious young man, dressed in a black coat with silver skull buttons, appears, and he knows who she is and what is happening. With no choice that she can see, Mara follows Messenger, and finds herself reliving the final hours of dead teenager Samantha Early's life.

As different characters appear, and the taciturn and seemingly harsh Messenger unveils more of Samantha's life, and as Mara witnesses the moral choices made by others, she realises that she is caught within a balance she does not understand, that forces greater than her own existence are in play - and she is just one piece in a vast battle of justice and retribution.

A gripping and occasionally creepy beginning to a new series - I couldn't put it down! 13+

Shane Koyczan

This began as a video that went viral. Koyczan, a spoken-word poet, grew up being picked upon, and his powerful poem is a response to the harmful effects of bullying behaviour - whether you are victim, instigator, or witness. It is also a poem about inner strength and finding the way to move past such negativity. The words are enough on their own to start conversations and reflections, but it is raised to another level by the illustrations.

Thirty different artists from around the globe have contributed work, including Australians Armin Greder, Kathleen Jennings and Phil Lesnie. A thoughtful book with an essential message - no age limit to this!

Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

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