Tag Archives: readalouds

Spinning a magical tale…The Spin by Rebecca Lisle

alt=the spin rebecca lisle cover

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:

It’s not the ghosts you need to worry about…

constable & toop

Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Evans, Hot Key Books, 2012.

From Booktrust.org.uk:

“A Victorian funeral parlour might seem like an unlikely setting for a children’s book, but in fact it makes the perfect background for this spooky supernatural tale from Blue Peter Award winning author Gareth P Jones. 

Undertaker’s son Sam Toop is struggling to deal with his unusual ability to see ghosts. As a ‘Talker’ he is one of the few living people who can see and talk to spirits – and as a consequence, he finds them continually asking for his help to resolve their unfinished business. But something strange is happening in London, and soon Sam finds himself dealing with not only the ghosts’ usual problems, but a whole host of other strange happenings – the terrible Black Rot, which is infecting haunted buildings across the city, a demon hound roaming the streets, and a sinsiter preacher performing horrible exorcisms. Closer to home, he also has to deal with the return of his no-good uncle Jack, and the revelation of all sorts of long-hidden family secrets.  

Meanwhile, long-dead clerk Lapsewood is spending eternity trapped in the bureaucracy of the Ghost Bureau, working his way through an endless pile of paperwork. But when he discovers that haunted houses across London are mysteriously losing their ghosts, he makes up his mind to investigate – even if he has to defy the Bureau to do so.

With an appealingly gothic setting, this pacy and exciting mystery perfectly blends comedy with the dark, spooky and supernatural. There are plenty of funny and gruesome moments that will appeal to young readers; but this is also a well-researched, thoughtful and compassionate novel, that takes inspiration from the Victorian preoccupation with mourning and death. Jones skilfully manages a complex series of interlocking storylines and an engaging cast of characters in this witty, action-packed and hugely entertaining ghost story.”

I love this moody book trailer featuring the author:

What do I think about this book?:

One of the best books I read in 2012. I discovered Gareth P. Jones after a group of reluctant readers got hooked on one of his earlier titles – “the Considine curse”. On investigation I discovered that Mr Jones had a few other books under his belt including a cool series for younger kids “Ninja Meerkats” which I immediately ordered and have had 6/7/8 year old boys clamouring for ever since! But back to Constable & Toop…I absolutely loved this book and literally could not put it down until I had consumed it completely. This title was published in October 2012 by Hot Key Books  (a very new and exciting publisher from the UK…every time I read about their forthcoming titles I want to buy them ALL and read them, even the titles that are written for teenagers)…. Anyway this is a ghost story, but not a silly one, instead, a rather dark and chilly one, set in Victorian London and the thoroughly researched setting perfectly matches the tone of the book. It is really well written and doesn’t feel like a typical children’s book. This should appeal to Year 5/6+ readers (and adults of any age!). Teachers – this would make a great read aloud!

As Hot Key Books aren’t yet available in NZ (they will be in 2013 I believe) I bought this copy from the Book Depository. It is already in the category of “most wanted” in our library with a long line of waiting readers on the reservation list. It is well worth waiting for!

One of my favourite blogging friends – Zac Harding of “My best friends are books” was lucky enough to interview Gareth P. Jones on his blog here 🙂 check it out if you are interested in reading about where Gareth got his inspiration from and what his plans for future books might be.