Tag Archives: Hot Key Books

Galloping galoshes it’s ‘The Great Galloon’ by Tom Banks

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The great galloon by Tom Banks. Published by Hot Key Books, 2013. Paperback, 166 pages.

(ISBN: 9781471400889)

What on earth is a Galloon?…why it’s half galleon and half balloon! (source: Scholastic Bookclub News UK)

From the publisher:

The Great Galloon is an enormous airship , manned by Captain Meredith Anstruther and his able crew. They might seem like a bit of a motley bunch, but they’re great at fighting off pirates and polishing the decks whilst drinking lots of tea! But disaster is about to strike… Captain Anstruther is preparing to marry the beautiful Lady Isabella. But on his wedding day, his evil younger brother boards the ship and steals Isabella away onto his underwater Sumbaroon! Soon the plucky crew of the Great Galloon – including a reluctant countess-to-be – are battling BeheMoths, dodging scary Seagles and trying to save the Galloon from sinking. But will they ever find the Captain’s bride?

THE GREAT GALLOON is a humorous CAPTAIN PUGWASH meets MONTY PYTHON adventure perfect for reading aloud and for growing readers looking for a silly, funny book…

(from the back cover):

Can the crew of the Great Galloon survive this impending disaster? And how many riotous adventures will come their way in this fabulously funny action packed tale?

What did I like about this book?

I didn’t hesitate to order this because it’s published by Hot Key Books and as I have mentioned often on this blog, they are publishing some of the hottest kidlit fiction coming out of Britain, and kids just seem to love the books. Secondly it had a glowing pre publication review on lovedreading4kids – another website I trust. Thirdly, I have a bit of a penchant for anything steampunkish and something with a steampunk flavor and lots of humor grabbed my interest. Look at the handy ‘Key’ provided by Hot Key on the back of the cover!

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I love the writing in this, it is playful and a bit mad. The reader is thrust straight into the action, and in a rather alarming way, without much of an introduction.  Accomplished readers will eat this up, but in my opinion this isn’t one for struggling readers or kids with English as a second language – it might be a little bewildering. Not a fault with the book – it is just different so something for some readers to work towards. I wasn’t surprised to read that the author has a background in the theatre, it has a ‘panto’ like riotous romping quality. The publisher has suggested Captain Pugwash meets Monty Python, I would throw in a little of the opium fuelled fantasy from Alice’s adventures, and the seagulls from James and the Giant peach to round that description out. There is an absolute Mad Hatterish feel about the story – and to get the humor you have to take things literally rather than figuratively or is that figuratively rather than literally?..maybe both!

e.g. “Another game of Backgammon?” said Stanley “I’ll bat this time”. [I thought this and plenty of other lines like this…frightfully clever!]

I loved it – hope some of my Year5 +  (9-10+) students do too!

Take a look at the first chapter available via Hot Key here:

There is a sequel on the way too…The Great Galloon : Voyage to the Volcano (August 2013)

Spinning a magical tale…The Spin by Rebecca Lisle

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The Spin by Rebecca Lisle, Published by Hot key Books, 2013. 357 pages.

From the publisher:

His destiny lies across a dangerous sky….

Stormy is an orphan and a kitchen skivvy. He tends the compost, he scrubs the floors, and watches feasts make their way up the mountain as he survives on bread and water. A skivvy is all that Stormy can hope to be. But Stormy has a secret. He wants to be a sky-rider, to soar amongst the clouds on spitfyres: flying horses that spit fire and smoke, and answer only to their riders. A chance meeting with an escaped convict turns Stormy’s life upside down. Sent up to the Academy he uncovers a web of lies, deceits and neglect, at the centre of which lies the mysterious thirteenth horse. Can Stormy save Thirteen, defeat the dark forces at work within the Academy and prove himself worthy as a sky-rider?

From the editor: “THE SPIN is an utterly charming story, perfect for fans of Harry Potter or How to Train Your Dragon, who like their adventure with magic, heart and humour. Rebecca Lisle has woven a wonderful adventure story inspired by Dickens’ Great Expectations – a story featuring a lonely but plucky little orphan Stormy, a mysterious benefactor and a stuck-up, enigmatic young girl – and a healthy dose of flying horses. Heartwarming and thrilling by turns, it’s a story to be loved by all the family, with the feel of a classic.”

What do I think about this book?

I absolutely loved it! Some books stay with you long after you have finished them and this was one of them. It has taken me a few days to write this post as I kept thinking about the characters (even then I am lost for words, which just proves I am not a writer – it’s very hard to do this book justice and not sound trite!) As I was reading this story I felt that I had been transported into Stormy’s world with the magical alternate world within it. The writing is fresh and original, it may have had Great Expectations as its inspiration but it certainly is a modern book and not having read Great Expectations recently, I really felt this was a “new” tale. It is so refreshing to read a story about a magical creature that is unfamiliar – I have read lots of stories featuring a pegasus or dragon but a gutsy flying horse that breathes fire and sparks (and isn’t a playful pony), is a novelty. The plot is complex without being complicated – it requires careful reading so that the reader can savour it. I was torn between wanting to find out what happened next whilst luxuriating in the story and not wanting it to end!

This story will be a great read for older children from year 5 up into year 8/9, with plenty of drama and suspense. It would also work very well as a family read aloud for slightly younger children.

Can I also add how much I love the cover – thank heavens it is not the typical dragon/pegasus fantasy style cover – the silhouetted figures against the spiral are really eye catching and I can see lots of students picking this out when it is on display.

**At the time of writing Hot Key Books publications are not distributed in New Zealand**

I have it on good authority that this situation will change this year…which is brilliant because I can honestly say I have enjoyed every title I have read…in addition each book has this handy “key” printed on the back of the cover or on the website. Here is the key for this book which indicates the content as follows: (50% Fantasy adventure, 25% Flying horses, 25% friendship).

hotkey spin

Extra bits of Spin related goodness:

Here is a blog post from the author, where she talks about her inspiration for the story and how some of the characters and plot developed.

Download the first chapter here.

Author website: http://www.rebeccalisle.com

RELATED POSTS:

Shrunk! by Fleur Hitchcock and the Story Adventure Project

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Shrunk! by Fleur Hitchcock. Published by Hot Key Books, 2012. Paperback, 176 pages.

I have been waiting for what feels like ages for this book to arrive. Shrunk! is Fleur Hitchcock’s first children’s book and was published in 2012 by a new UK publisher “Hot Key Books”.  I read about this book and thought it sounded perfect for some of my reluctant boy readers, it’s not too long and would make a great read aloud.

This wonderful story has something for everyone to identify with; a quirky, likable main character …with an annoying little sister, he is also the new kid in town and struggling to make friends; an embarassing granny and worse…embarrassing parents; a little bit of magic and science fiction thrown in (disappearing planets, shooting stars, meteorites, rumoured alien abductions and the possible end of the world); a horrid bully (who Tom shrinks down to size – literally and figuratively and renders harmless for a while); funny animals and lots and lots of humor. If you like British humor (e.g. David Walliams or Andy Stanton, even Roald Dahl) then you will really enjoy this story. I loved it! It will be on our new book display early in term 1.

From the publisher:

“After Tom moves in with his grandmother next to the Bywater-by-Sea Model Village, he makes a wish on a shooting star and gets the curious ability to shrink things. The first thing he shrinks is Jupiter, then some sheep and a boat.But without Jupiter in place, the Earth is slowly being drawn towards the Sun. With the angry (and miniaturised) school bully yelling from his pocket, Tom has to return Jupiter and save Earth — all while trying to make friends in his new home.”
Here is Fleur Hitchcock reading an extract from her book, which will give you an idea of how funny this is read aloud.

What is Story Adventure all about? From the Story Adventure website (here):

Have you ever wanted YOUR SAY in how a book gets written?
Fleur Hitchcock has to write a new book for her Evil Editor and she needs your help.

Step 1. Read the free chapters.

Step 2. Tell Fleur what should happen next. (Sign up required.)

Step 3. Get YOUR ideas and writing into the book!

Step 4. Come back next Monday to read the next chapter.